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PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 09: Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a forehand during his Mens Singles Quarter-Final match against Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during Day Eleven of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on June 09, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo : Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Here we go again. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic barged into the semifinals of the 2021 French Open after recording hard-earned four-set victories over Diego Schwartzman and Matteo Berrettini. In the women’s draw, Maria Sakkari and Barbora Krejcikova recorded shocking upsets Wednesday to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in their careers.
Nadal and Djokovic win, to face off for 58th time
Rafael Nadal moved to within two victories of a record 21st Grand Slam title after beating Diego Schwartzman, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, in a thrilling quarterfinal Wednesday. For two and a half sets, the match was hanging in the balance with Schwartzman on the ascendancy after stealing the second set, 4-6. That was the first set that Nadal has lost since the 2019 French Open final and nerves were definitely on display at the start of the third set as he tried to absorb Schwartzman’s punishing ground strokes.
The 13-time French Open champion dug deep as he usually does, however, winning nine consecutive games from 3-4 down in the third set to reach his 14th French Open semifinal. Nadal has been simply exceptional in his career on the Parisian clay as he has now improved his record in this tournament to 105-2. To make matters worse for his opponents, when he reaches this stage of the competition, he never loses, going 13-0 in the French Open semis and finals in his career.
One guy who will not be scared of that record, though, is world no. 1 Novak Djokovic. He’s one of only two players to inflict a defeat on Nadal here at Roland Garros. The Serbian star forged yet another clash with Nadal after recording a tough 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 win over ninth seeded Matteo Berrettini in the quarterfinals.
This will be Nadal and Djokovic’s ninth meeting here at Roland Garros with the Spaniard holding a healthy 7-1 advantage in their head-to-head matchup. Nadal’s latest victory against Djokovic came in last year’s final with the 20-time Grand Slam champion winning in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2, 7-5. You can never count out Djokovic, though, given that he has a 29-28 advantage against Nadal in their head-to-head meetings in the ATP Tour.
Sakkari and Krejcikova reach maiden Grand Slam semifinal
Maria Sakkari and Barbora Krejcikova, on the other hand, delivered two giant upsets on the women’s side Wednesday, defeating in straight sets defending champion Iga Swiatek and rising American star Coco Gauff. Sakkari’s aggressive game plan worked wonders against Swiatek, needing just one hour and 36 minutes to record the 6-4, 6-4 upset. This result was a shocker given that Swiatek was on a 22-set winning streak prior to this matchup.
Sakkari will have her hands full with her next opponent, though, as Krejcikova has been playing some lights out tennis as well. The world No. 33 Krejcikova has been on fire of late, winning 10 consecutive matches on clay – even capturing her first WTA singles title two weeks ago in Strasbourg. Given their fine form, expect a tense battle between these two Grand Slam semifinal debutants.
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