06/09/2021 at 06:30 CEST
Less than a month after meeting in the final of the Masters 1000 in Rome, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic are one step away from meeting again, this time at Roland Garros. If the Spanish surpasses the Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals and the Serbian does the same with the Italian Matteo Berrettini, both will meet in the semifinals. It would be the 58th duel of his long and equal career; 29 won by ‘Nole’ and 28 by Rafa.
The manacorí, in the third turn of the Philippe Chatrier (he will not play before 2:00 p.m.), faces the only tennis player who, together with him, has not yet yielded a set in this edition of the Parisian Grand Slam. It will be the third time that their rackets have crossed on the Parisian clay in which the Spanish has always imposed his law, although the Argentine hopes to cut the gap with the great dominator of that track.
The last duel took place last year in the semifinals, on the way to Nadal’s 13th title at Roland Garros, with the ‘Peque’ in full swing, but the result was overwhelming: 6-3, 6-3 and 7-6 (0) . Nine months later – last year’s edition was delayed a quarter due to the pandemic – the Argentine appears again on Nadal’s path and this time with fewer arguments on paper to skip discipline.
The Argentine remains among the 10 best on the circuit, a condition that he debuted after his good performance last year in Paris, but his time on clay has left less of a mark than in 2020.
Before landing on the banks of the Seine, Schwartzman had only won two games on brick dust, both in Barcelona and against opponents with a much worse ranking than his own. Four defeats, in Monte Carlo, Madrid, Rome and Lyon, raised doubts about his ability to recover the moment of last season and generated a major crisis of confidence in the mind of the Buenos Aires. But the French capital played its magic and the ‘Peque’ has already achieved four triumphs in Paris that have served as a balm to his motivation, rising on the eve of facing a new duel against Nadal.
The Spaniard faces the duel on a good track, after an irregular start to his season on clay, which was gradually straightening out. Rafa himself assures that he is giving a “high level and that he is going to more”, a declaration of intentions in the face of the duel against the Argentine, whom he considers “an always tough rival.” But Nadal is in full swing. He has already chained 35 sets without yielding one and the prospect of a 21 Grand Slam appears as an incentive for him.
The road is still long and, in between, another mountain rises, a semifinal that the winner of the Spanish-Argentine duel will have to face against the Serbian Novak Djokovic, number 1 in the world, or the Italian Matteo berrettini.
While the Serbian left doubts in his round of 16 duel against the young Italian Lorenzo Musetti, who won the first two sets before the physicist told him enough, Berrettini has had a pleasant Roland Garros and He did not have to play his round of 16 duel due to the withdrawal of Swiss Roger Federer.
The 25-year-old transalpine became the first Italian to reach the eighth of the big four and although he plays his first quarters in Paris, he was already in the semifinals of the 2019 United States Open.
Djokovic seeks his eleventh semifinal in Paris, a tournament in which he has played five finals and has lifted once, the one that fewer of the 18 greats that he treasures. If he did, a second would become the first to achieve at least two crowns in all the Grand Slam.