A Question of Sport: Sue Barker says goodbye
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Rafael Nadal survived a second-set scare against Diego Schwartzman to move a step closer to a French Open semi-final against rival Novak Djokovic.
The world No 1 defeated Schwartzman 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-0 in an enthralling battle at Roland Garros.
Schwartzman, the world No 10, had not dropped a set at the tournament before the match and battled all the way until the final set, when Nadal’s quality truly took over.
Both initially struggled to break the other’s serve in the opening set until Nadal finally took the lead in the seventh game. He went on to win the set 6-3.
But Schwartzman came fighting back and sensationally won the second set. He was then leading the third set 3-0 against the 35-year-old but Nadal soon took over.
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He breezed through the final set in comfortable style, sending out a clear warning to Djokovic.
The Serb will be expected to beat Matteo Berrettini this evening to set up the semi-final, which will be a repeat of last year’s final.
Nadal won 6-0 6-2 7-5 to win a fourth consecutive French Open title.
The 35-year-old is this year hoping to win his 14th in total but will face a tough test against an in-form Djokovic if they meet in the last four.
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Djokovic has won just once at Roland Garros, defeating Andy Murray in the 2016 final.
He also has just a solitary French Open victory against Nadal in eight attempts, striking a blow to his chances ahead of a potential semi-final.
Djokovic’s record against Nadal has been poor recently, losing each of his previous five matches against the Spaniard on the surface.
The final defeat against Nadal will motivate him to go one better this year.
And the 34-year-old has insisted that he does not copy his rival’s style on clay, claiming that he has his own way of playing.
“It’s always good to catch certain details from your rivals. Rafa and I have a completely different style of play, so I don’t try to copy his game or anything like that on any surface,” Djokovic said.
“I have my own authentic style that I have developed over the years, but definitely when you watch Nadal play on clay, there is always something you can learn from.
“I consider myself a student of this sport. I can always learn something not only from him, but from any player on the circuit.
“I always have an open mind every time I watch tennis.”
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