Rafael Nadal Defeats Diego Schwartzman to Reach French Open Semifinals

Rafael Nadal’s streak may have ended, but he’s still extending other records at the French Open.

The 35-year-old Spanish tennis star, the King of Clay, saw his 36-set winning streak end at Roland Garros on Wednesday, but he battled through to a record-extending 14th semifinal at the tournament.

Rafael Nadal

The 13-time champion improved to a 105-2 match record at the clay-court Grand Slam following a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory over Argentine 10th seed Diego Schwartzman in two hours and 45 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Nadal, who is bidding to capture a record 21st major crown, lost the final three games of the second set in front of 5,000 spectators, but regrouped in the third set and from a 3-4 deficit put his foot down to win nine straight games, and 20 of 21 service points in a row.

“I started badly in the second set, then I was able to come back,” said Nadal. “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. I won an important match today against a tough opponent. I was able to find a way to play my best tennis in the moments that I really needed to.”

He will next challenge World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the 2016 champion with 18 major trophies who beat ninth-seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini, in Friday’s semi-finals.

Nadal trails Djokovic 28-29 in their legendary ATP Head2Head series, but Nadal won their last match in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final in Rome.

Nadal has compiled a 23-3 match record on the season, which also includes the Barcelona Open title (d. Tsitsipas). He is through to his 35th Grand Slam semifinal and is 26-0 once he reaches the Roland Garros semifinals.

Rafael Nadal Ends Up on the Same Half of French Open Draw as Novak Djokovic & Roger Federer

It’s the (bad) luck of the draw for Rafael Nadal

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis star, the reigning French Open champion, has ended up in the same half of the Roland Garros men’s field in the draw as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, meaning no more than one of them can reach the final.

Rafael Nadal

The Big Three top the leaderboard for Grand Slam men’s singles titles. Federer and Nadal head to Roland Garros, where play begins Sunday, tied with 20, while Djokovic has 18. No one else has more than 14.

Nadal, the King of Clay, beat Djokovic in straight sets in the 2020 final for his record-extending 13th championship on the red clay of Paris, but if they meet again this time, it would be in the semifinals.

Nadal is ranked and seeded No. 3 — the seedings adhere strictly to the ATP rankings, so the Spaniard’s unprecedented success in Paris is irrelevant — so he could have wound up on either side of the bracket but was placed in No. 1 Djokovic’s half.

So was Federer, whose record for most weeks atop the ATP rankings recently was broken by Djokovic. Federer is seeded eighth after playing only three matches over the past 15 months because of two operations on his right knee and could meet Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

The other possible men’s quarterfinal on their side is Nadal vs. No. 7 Andrey Rublev.

On the other side of the draw, the potential quarterfinals are No. 2 Daniil Medvedev vs. No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 4 Dominic Thiem vs. No. 6 Alexander Zverev.

Medvedev is a two-time Grand Slam finalist but is 0-4 for his French Open career. Thiem won last year’s US Open and twice has been the runner-up in Paris.

This is the first time that Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have been in the same half of a Grand Slam main draw, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Rafael Nadal Routs Novak Djokovic to Win French Open for Record-Tying 20th Men’s Grand Slam Title

Rafael Nadal has lived to slay on clay another day…

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis star produced a nearly flawless performance against World. No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the French Open final on Sunday to tie Roger Federer with 20 Grand Slam titles.

Rafael Nadal

 

Nadal equaled long-time rival Federer for the most major singles tennis championships won by a man and added to his own record at Roland Garros with No. 13 on the red clay, courtesy of a surprisingly dominant 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Djokovic.

“What you are doing in this court is unbelievable. Not just this court — throughout your entire career, you’ve been a great champion,” Djokovic told Nadal during the trophy presentation. “Today you showed why you are King of the Clay.”

Rafael NadalWhen Nadal ended it with an ace, he dropped to his knees, smiled widely and pumped his arms. It’s the fourth time he has won his favorite tournament without ceding a set.

“The love story that I have with this city, and with this court, is unforgettable,” Nadal said.

He deflected a question during the on-court post-match interview about catching Federer, saying his focus remained squarely on the French Open.

“[To] win here means everything to me, no? It’s not the moment, honestly … [to] think today about the 20th,” Nadal said. “Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent, here, the most important moments — or most of the most important moments — in my tennis career, no doubt about that.”

Nadal, No. 2 in the rankings, improved to 100-2 at the French Open, including a combined 26-0 in semifinals and finals, and picked up his fourth consecutive title in Paris. He previously put together streaks of four French Open championships from 2005 to ’08, then five in a row from 2010 to ’14, to go alongside his four trophies at the US Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open.

Nadal is now even with Federer for the first time since each man had zero Slams to his name in 2003. Federer’s first arrived at Wimbledon that year; Nadal, naturally, earned his first in France in 2005, by which point he trailed 4-0.

Federer reacted to Nadal’s win on Twitter, congratulating his “greatest rival.”

“I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion,” Federer said in his post. “As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players. Therefore, it is a true honor for me to congratulate him on his 20th Grand Slam victory.

“… I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.”

Nadal is the oldest French Open champion since 1972, and the more than 15 years between his first and most recent Grand Slam titles is the longest such span for a man.

Rafael Nadal Outlasts Alexander Zverev for His Record-Extending Eighth Italian Open Title

Rafael Nadal is still the King of Clay

The 31-year-old Spanish tennis star profited from a timely rain delay at a break when he was down in the final set to hold off defending champion and No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 at the Italian Open in Rome.

Rafael Nadal

It was a record-extending eighth Italian Open title for Nadal, who’ll head to Roland Garros as the new world No. 1.

Nadal surrendered top spot in the ATP world rankings to Roger Federer last week after Nadal’s Madrid Open quarterfinal defeat to Dominic Thiem — the only blight on an otherwise impeccable clay-court season this year.

However, Nadal will return to the summit when the latest ATP rankings are published on Monday after he overcame world No. 3 Zverev in a thrilling finale on the Foro Italico’s Campo Centrale.

Billed as a clash between the two current top-form players on clay, Sunday’s final did not disappoint. After two hotly-contested semifinals on Saturday — Nadal saw off long-time rival Novak Djokovic while Zverev smashed a racket in anger during his victory over Marin Cilic — the championship match ebbed and flowed throughout.

Despite dropping serve in the opening game, victory looked like a foregone conclusion for 10-time French Open champion Nadal as he blistered through the first set in 33 minutes to put his young opponent on the back foot.

However, Zverev produced a phenomenal set of tennis to force the decider. The German changed tactics in the second set, becoming much more aggressive on the front foot and overwhelming Nadal with an array of powerful strokes.

The 21-year-old secured a double-break to move 5-0 ahead. After Nadal prevented the bagel, he leveled the match in style with a ferocious backhand winner down the line.

Rising star Zverev’s confidence grew further as he immediately broke Nadal at the start of the third, before the match’s turning point came in agonizing fashion.

With Zverev leading 3-1 in the final set, rain intervened and caused an hour’s delay in play. It proved pivotal, allowing Nadal precious time to regain his composure and hit back immediately after the restart.

Nadal rattled off four consecutive games — including two successive breaks of serve — to move 5-3 ahead before serving out a fifth to secure his eighth Italian crown and send out a warning to his rivals ahead of the year’s second grand slam.

Nadal Oulasts Gael Monfils to Win the Monte Carlo Masters

Rafael Nadal is back in the Masters winner’s circle…

The 29-year-old Spanish tennis star matched his Roland Garros haul to claim a ninth title at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal wore down a stubborn Gael Monfils over two punishing sets before steamrollering his opponent in the decider to win 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 in two hours and 46 minutes.

With victory, Nadal — who won eight consecutive Monte Carlo crowns between 2005 and 2012 — equalled Novak Djokovic‘s record of 28 Masters titles.

“This has been one of the most special places in my career,” said Nadal, a 14-time Grand Slam champion. “It’s just a pleasure to be back here in a final playing in front of you at this amazing club.

“It has been a very special week for me, winning here in Monte Carlo. What really makes it even more special is the fantastic crowd. Many thanks to everybody here.”

Since his last Masters triumph at Madrid in 2014, Nadal has struggled for form and saw his ranking plummet to 10th last year — his lowest since he was a teenager in August 2005.

This victory will have tasted sweet for the world No.5, and will send out a warning that the King of Clay may be back just in time for the French Open, having racked up his 48th title on the surface.

Nadal Wins Hamburg Open, Closes in on Guillermo Vilas’ Clay Court Title Record

Rafael Nadal is thisclose to cementing his status as the “King of Clay.”

The 29-year-old Spanish tennis star managed to overcome some sloppy play on his favorite surface to beat Fabio Fognini 7-5, 7-5 and win the Hamburg Open for the second time on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal squandered a 3-1 lead in the final set and saved two set points before prevailing in 2 hours and 34 minutes over the eighth-seeded Italian and the 2013 Hamburg winner.

“It was a great match, many great points, many breaks, we fought hard,” Nadal said. “I had many ups and downs.”

The former World No. 1 extended his run of having won at least one European clay-court title every year since 2004 when he took his maiden crown in Sopot, Poland.

“It’s an important title for me,” Nadal said.

Nadal now has 47 clay-court titles, second only to Guillermo Vilas‘ 49. It was Nadal’s second title on clay this year after Buenos Aires in February. He has 67 career titles overall. Nadal won in Hamburg in 2008.

With his third title of the year, Nadal will rise one spot to No. 9 in the rankings.

Fognini was trying to become the first player to beat Nadal three times on clay in a year. With six losses this year, Nadal has as many defeats on clay as in three previous years combined.

The two players traded breaks in the first four games and Nadal saved one break point to hold for 6-5. Fognini then saved three break points before Nadal clinched the set with a forehand return.

Nadal served for a 4-1 lead in the second, but Fognini turned the match before wasting two set points in the 10th game.

Nadal again had to save two break points before going 6-5 up. Two successive forehand errors by Fognini gave Nadal the match in the next game.

Nadal Makes History After Winning His Eighth French Open Title

Rafael Nadal has etched his name into the annals of tennis history…

The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star beat David Ferrer in the French Open final Sunday 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to become the first man to win eight titles at the same Grand Slam tournament.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal, proclaimed The King of Clay, also broke the men’s record for match wins at Roland Garros, where he improved to 59-1, with his lone defeat against Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009.

For fans enthralled by Nadal’s semifinal victory over top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the final may have seemed anticlimactic. But not for Nadal.

His path to the French Open title was more arduous than usual. He fell behind in each of his first three matches and needed a fifth-set comeback to beat Djokovic.

And the latest title was especially sweet for Nadal because of his comeback after a seven-month layoff caused by knee trouble.

”This one is very special one,” Nadal said. ”When you have period of time like I had, you realize that you don’t know if you will have the chance to be back here with this trophy another time.”

Since returning in February, he’s 43-2 with seven titles in nine tournaments, and he has won his past 22 matches. With his 12th Grand Slam tournament championship, Nadal moved into a tie for third place with Roy Emerson behind Roger Federer‘s 17 and Pete Sampras‘ 14.

Nadal came into the final with a 16-match winning streak on clay against Ferrer, who was a big underdog playing in his first major final at age 31. Ferrer had a few chances to make Nadal uneasy but converted only three of 12 break points and double-faulted five times.

Zeballos Defeats Nadal to Earn His First Pro Title

Following a decade of playing professional tennis, Horacio Zeballos finally has his first pro title… And he earned it by defeating the King of Clay.

The 27-year-old Argentine tennis player defeated Rafael Nadal – back on the tour after a seventh month hiatus due to an injured left knee – in the finals at the Chilean Open 7-6 (2), 6-7 (6), 6-4 for his first title on any surface, looking every bit the equal of the seven-time French Open champion.

Horacio Zeballos

Nadal was the overwhelming favorite at the tournament, where he was shooting for this 37th title on clay. He said just being able to play tennis again was some reward.

“It was a week when we didn’t know how the body would respond, the knee,” said Nadal. “At least we have seen we can compete up to a certain level. It’s true I have had good days and bad days that impact on my play.”

It was only the fifth loss for Nadal in a singles final on clay.

Zeballos matched Nadal shot for shot with no service breaks until the third set, dropping to his back on the red clay surface after winning.

“This is the game of my life,” said Zeballos said. “Playing against the best player of all time, or one of the best in the history of tennis. It’s a dream, unforgettable. I will never forget this moment.”

Horacio Zeballos

Zeballos said the two chatted briefly, and Nadal offered some advice.

“He told me: ‘Enjoy this title, this is your first, so just enjoy it,’ ” said Zeballos.

Nadal had most of the support, with fans waving Spanish flags and some wearing T-shirts saying “Vamos Rafa” and “Viva Espana.” The Spaniard has been treated like a native since arriving in Chile for his comeback tournament.

Zeballos joined some pretty exclusive company on Sunday. He joined Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer as the only players to beat Rafael Nadal in the final of a clay-court event. Nadal also had won 15 straight matches on clay.

Meanwhile, Nadal plays again this week in the Brazil Open in Sao Paulo, and later this month on clay in Acapulo, Mexico — all aimed at getting him ready for a run at this eighth French Open title.

Nadal Wins in Singles & Doubles at the Chilean Open

The King of Clay is putting his sore left knee to the test; and he’s winning…

Rafael Nadal competed in a pair of matches on Friday, defeating his fellow countryman Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-1, 6-4 to reach the semifinals at the Chilean Open and advancing in doubles at the tournament as well.

Rafael Nadal

The 26-year-old Spanish tennis star, back on the tour after a seven-month hiatus due to his knee injury, partnered with Argentina’s Juan Monaco to register a 6-3, 6-4 win against Carlos Berlocq and Leonardo Mayer of the Argentina.

Nadal’s two victories meant he’d played five matches in four days. And while his knee is still hurting, Nadal feels it’s making progress.

“I felt better today than the first day, so that’s a positive thing,” said Nadal. “That’s a thing that gives me confidence and hope for the future that we’re going in the right way. After seven months out of competition, even if I don’t have the pain in the knee, at the beginning you feel slower, you feel more tired than usual so you need time to adapt. That’s the thing. I need time to do it. I still feel pain in the knee some days and that’s something we hope and think will be improving week by week.”

Nadal will play Jeremy Chardy of France in the singles semifinals Saturday. If he advances, he’ll next face another busy day on Sunday with a singles final and the doubles championship against Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace of Italy.

Nadal’s is hoping to get back to the top of his game to challenge the tennis’ fellow superstars: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

He took the court Friday with temperatures hovering around 85 degrees in the middle to the South American summer. He is likely to encounter similar temperatures when he plays next week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and later this month in Acapulco, Mexico.

Nadal, who plays next week in Brazil, and later this month in Mexico,said he’s not focusing on the results while he uses the upcoming clay-court events to hone his game. But hisfans expect the King of Clay — he has won 93 percent of his singles matches on the surface — to win all three tournaments and show he’s ready to challenge for a record-stretching eighth French Open title in May.