French Open: ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal reaches semifinals for record 14th time

Paris: French Open king Rafael Nadal suffered a set defeat for the first time this year on Wednesday. However, he managed to reach the semi-finals for the record 14th time. The 13-time French Open champion defeated 10th seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

After losing the second set, Nadal was also behind 4-3 in the third set but won the match by winning 9 consecutive games. He will now face top seed Novak Djokovic on Friday.

“I started badly in the second set, then I was able to come back. But at 4-4, returning with the wind, I played a bad game and hit a double fault in the next game. I needed to play more aggressively and I did so throughout the rest of the match,” said Nadal after the match.

World No.3 Nadal, the winner of the highest number of Grand Slam titles at 21, will compete with world No.1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Matteo Berrettini of Italy on Friday.

The second semi-final will be between world No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas and sixth-ranked Alexander Zverev. Nadal, who turns 35 next week, has a record of 105.2 at Roland Garro.

Earlier in the women’s section, Maria Sakkari broke defending champion Inga Sviatec’s 11-match and 22-set winning campaign at the French Open to enter the Grand Slam semi-finals for the first time.

Sakkari, seeded 17th, defeated Sviatec 6-4, 6-4. His reaching the last four ensured that this time someone would become a new Grand Slam champion in the claycourt tournament. Sakkari will face unseeded Barbora Krasikova, while Anastasia P will face Tamara Zidansek. Barbora defeated 17-year-old Coco Gou 7-6, 6-3.

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In the semi-finals, all four women have reached the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time. This is only the second time this has happened in the era of professional tennis. Earlier in the semi-finals of the 1978 Australian Open, all the players reached the last four for the first time.

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