Nadal To Face Djokovic In Roland Garros Final

Rafael Nadal (photo: Brigitte Urban)

PARIS/STARNBERG, September 9, 2020 (by Alessandro Boroch)

In the first semifinal match on Friday, No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain defeated 12th seed Diego Schwartzman from Argentina, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(0) in three hours and 10 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier. With the win, Nadal has reached his 13th career-final at Roland Garros, not having lost a single time in the very last stage of the event so far.

Nadal gained revenge for his Rome quarter-final loss against the Argentine three weeks ago, when Schwartzman managed to reach the final of an ATP Masters for the first time in his career, eventually falling in straight sets to No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic.

“I have been playing him a lot of times, but he’s getting better and better every time. In Rome I didn’t play my best and he played well very well, every day,” Nadal said.

“I’d like to thank the crowd for their support. It’s incredible to be in another Roland Garros final. It’s always a special moment.”

For the sixth time in his career, Nadal did not drop a single set en route to the final in Paris.

After coping tremendously well with the task of being the aggressor, Nadal found a way to earn a two-set lead over the three-time ATP Tour titlist from Argentina, allowing him just one break of serve over the course of the first two hours of the match.

The proceedings got seemingly closer in the following third set, when Schwartzman punished Nadal’s sloppiness, ultimately fighting back twice from a set down to level the score and extant his chances of a tangible first major final.

At 5-5, Schwartzman began playing more aggressively with each point, eventually setting himself up two break points to get a potential set-serving game. However, 34-year-old Nadal shrugged off these break opportunities with all his experience, producing two explosive back-to-back forehand winners and playing a successful serve & volley combination down another break point. Two strong first serves finally secured him the crucial hold.

In the subsequent tie-break, the Spanish veteran’s routine paid off once again, as the 12-time French Open champion did not allow Schwartzman a single point in the deciding tie-break on his way to another final in Paris.

“A couple of points I had a couple of mistakes. He played some good points and then I had one volley here and I missed another volley. I know against Diego it’s very difficult until the end,” Nadal said. “He’s one of the guys who makes more breaks on the tour. I expected a very tough match.“

Schwartzman will rise to a career-high No. 8 in the ATP Rankings on Monday, cracking the Top 10 for the first time.

Djokovic overcomes scare to reach fifth career-final in Paris

In the second semifinal, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia fought past sixth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 in three hours and 54 minutes.

For the fifth time in his career Djokovic has reached the final on the slippery surface in Paris, having solely secured the trophy once in 2016 against Andy Murray.

During the first three sets, Djokovic was incredibly effective when it came to his break point conversion, while Tsitsipas fell short on crucial points, converting just two of 13 break opportunities.

However, these two converted break points happened at the right time for the young Greek, just when it mattered the most to stay in the match.

From one match point down at 4-5 on Djokovic’s serve, 22-year-old Tsitsipas found the line more than just once with his dictating forehand, finally converting his first break point on his 12th try, and even winning the following next two games to claim the set 7-5, having been just one point away from defeat.

After both traded breaks at the beginning of the fourth set, Tsitsipas showed outrageous big point plays, saving eight break points in three consecutive service games, before ultimately forcing a decisive fifth set after converting only his second break point of the fourth set. The distribution of roles in terms of efficiency on important points had completely changed.

Toward the end, Djokovic’s experience helped him to prevail. Tsitsipas was visibly tired, no longer chasing for Djokovic’s drop shots on several occasions.

With his five-set win, Djokovic improved to 4-2 in his head-to-head series against reigning ATP Tour Finals champion Tsitsipas. The World No. 1 now holds a 37-1 record this year.