Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman made his first major semifinal when he outlasted Austrian Dominic Thiem in five hours and eight minutes on Tuesday. He is joined by the title favourites Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, with Stefanos Tsitsipas, who reached the Australian Open semifinal in 2019, also making his first appearance in the last four at Roland Garros.
The third seeded Thiem, winner of the U.S. Open and the runner up in Paris in the last two edition of the French Open, was playing in his fifth consecutive quarter final at the Open, but came up short against the 12th seeded Schwartzman against whom he enjoyed a 6-2 career head to head record. Schwartzman is now guaranteed to break into the Top Ten in the new rankings on Monday after his 7-6(1),5-7,6-7(6),7-6(5),6-2 win over his close friend.
Schwartzman recovered from 2-4 down in the first set and then 1-3 down in the second and could have gone two sets up but missed an easy forehand in the tenth game of the second set with Thiem serving 4-5,15-30 down. Schwartzman squandered one set point in the third and three in the fourth sets which he eventually won in a tie-break to even the match. Schwartzman broke serve twice in the fifth set in which he never looked like losing.
Up next is the twelve time champion in Paris, the Spaniard Rafael Nadal who kept alive his bid of equalling Roger Federer’s tally of twenty grand slam titles after he finished his quarter-final encounter at 1:30AM on early Wednesday which was the latest finish ever in French Open history. The second seeded Nadal took the court at 10:30PM on Tuesday against the Italian teenager Jannik Sinner. Nadal dropped serve in the eleventh game of the opening set but the 19 year old Sinner failed to serve out the set but not before recovering from 0-40 down before Nadal levelled it at 6-6 on his fourth break point to send it to a tie-break which Nadal won on his second set point.
Sinner would get an early break of serve in the second set only for Nadal to break right back in the fifth game. Nadal got the decisive break in the ninth game as he won four consecutive points on Sinner’s serve and then served out the set in the next game on his second set point. Nadal then broke serve thrice in third set to complete a 7-6(4),6-4,6-1 win to extend his record at Roland Garros to 98-2.
In what was a rematch of the Hamburg final played 10 days ago, Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece exacted sweet revenge as he demolished the 13th seeded Russian Andrey Rublev 7-5,6-2,6-3 in one hour and fifty seven minutes on Wednesday to advance to his second career grand slam semifinal. The fifth seeded Tsitsipas who had failed to serve out the match in the final and had also lost in the third round at the U.S. Open in New York after having six match points against the Croat Borna Coric was always in command despite trailing early in the first set to the Russian.
After dropping serve in the fifth game to trail 2-3, Tsistipas took the last four games in the opening set after trailing 3-5, breaking Rublev twice in succession and then went on to save one set point before winning the first set 7-5. The next two sets was all Tsitsipas, breaking service twice in the second, and then despite squandering one match point with Rublev serving 2-5 down, the fifth seed served out the match to love as he triumphed 7-5,6-2,6-3.
Next up for Tsitsipas is the world number One Novak Djokovic, who came from a set down to defeat the Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6,6-2,6-3,6-4 in a repeat of the round of sixteen clash in New York where Djokovic was disqualified after hitting a lineswoman accidentally with a ball after dropping serve in the eleventh game. Busta broke serve in the fifth game of the opening set only for Djokovic to break serve in the eighth game to level at 4-4. The Spaniard broke service again in the ninth game on his second break point and then served out the next game at 15 to win the first set 6-4.
Djokovic then took a medical time out at the end of the first set and that seemed to put the Spaniard off as the Serb, champion in 2016, took the next three sets easily with Busta offering little resistance only in the fourth set. He failed to convert on three break point chances in the eighth game before the Spaniard served out the match in the tenth game to keep alive his hopes of a second career slam of winning every major atleast twice, the only player in Open Era to do so.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]