Rafael Nadal was forced to produce his best tennis in an intense and bruising quarterfinal match with 10th seed Diego Schwartzman, with the Spaniard triumphing 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-0. At one point it looked as if Schwartzman could pull off the upset, as the King of Clay looked devoid of energy during the third set. However after refueling at a change of ends, Nadal produced tennis that was on a different level, even for Nadal’s usual high standards, and he bulldozed his way through Schwartzman in the fourth set.
Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman
The match began with the Spaniard exerting extreme pressure in Schwartzman’s early service games. Nadal exposed the Argentine’s lack of pace and his limited ability to get free points off the serve. Schwartzman held firm, and produced some incredible shot making and held his own saving multiple break points. Ultimately, the pressure from the Spaniard proved too much, and he was able to take the first set relatively comfortably 6-3.
However, the second set saw a change of momentum. Schwartzman upped his level and the Spaniard began to have troubles on his first serve, mirroring the troubles he had earlier in the clay court season in Monte Carlo and Madrid. Schwartzman continued to produce an incredibly high level of shot making and began to dominate the longer exchanges from the back of the court. The Argentine got the early break. However, he was broken back in the next game. Both men struggled to hold serve and unforced errors began to creep into the Spaniard’s game. At 5-4, Schwartzman took advantage of being ahead in the set and showcased his incredible return of serve. He broke Nadal at the most opportune moment, taking the second set.
The crowd of 5,000 were being treated to an incredible spectacle, and the intensity only increased in the third set. Schwartzman got into a rhythm on serve and began to hold serve relatively comfortably. On top of this, Schwartzman was continuing to put Nadal under immense pressure, and was producing some of the finest tennis of his career. There was a real sense that perhaps today was the day that Nadal would suffer the third defeat of his career at Roland Garros. As the set headed towards its business end, the Spaniard looked to be struggling in the heat.
The match turns
However, at 4-4 in the third, the match completely turned on its head. Nadal began to take more risks and go for more power on his forehand side. This meant that Schwartzman was suddenly more on the defensive and stayed pinned back behind the baseline. This led to the Argentine’s level finally dropping. He began committing unforced errors on his backhand, and the Spaniard gained the break before serving out the set.
The end of the third set and entire fourth set had to be seen to be believed. At one point, Nadal won 15 out of 18 points. It was a brutal onslaught of offensive tennis. There was nothing Schwartzman–or indeed any player in the world–could have done to stop it. Only 30 minutes earlier, there was a real possibility of the Argentine causing an upset. However, this vanished in the blink of an eye. Nadal won the fourth set 6-0 and booked his place in Friday’s semifinals.
If there was any doubt about whether or not Rafael Nadal was the favorite to win a 14th Roland Garros, these doubters will now have been silenced. The tennis he played in the fourth set was of a stratospheric level. The Spaniard heads into his semifinal with Novak Djokovic full of confidence. It’s time to sit back and enjoy every match Rafael Nadal plays at Roland Garros, because when he eventually retires, we will never see dominance of this kind again.
Embed from Getty Images