Rafael Nadal continued his bid for a record-extending 14th French Open title with a thrilling four-set victory over Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals.
In a repeat of last year’s semi-final, Schwartzman performed magnificently to end Nadal’s run of 36 consecutive sets at Roland Garros, but the irrepressible Spaniard rose to the challenge to book his place in Friday’s semi-finals.
Having advanced to the quarter-finals without dropping a set, Schwartzman was threatening a monumental upset against ‘The King of Clay’, who had lost just two of his previous 106 appearances on the red dirt.
Nevertheless, in the face of adversity, Nadal found another level to maintain his pursuit of a record 21st Grand Slam title; reeling off nine consecutive games from 4-3 adrift in the third to extend his winning run at the French Open to 35 matches.
The 35-year-old now faces a showdown against either world No 1 Novak Djokovic or ninth seed Matteo Berrettini for a place in Sunday’s finale, and it will take something special to prevent him creating another slice of history.
Nadal was handed a time violation ahead of the opening set, but the indomitable Spaniard was undeterred as he defied some terrific tennis from Schwartzman to draw first blood in 45 minutes.
Schwartzman saved two break points in a high-quality fourth game, but a sequence of three consecutive breaks gave Nadal the upper hand and the defending champion duly closed out the opener with a commanding hold.