Novak Djokovic warned Rafael Nadal unstoppable as Serb sets up French Open semi-final

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Nadal booked his 14th career Roland Garros semi-final by overcoming the 10th-ranked Argentine 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

The Spaniard was under real pressure against Schwartzman after losing the second set as the South American produced some top-level tennis.

But the ‘King of Clay’ went to another level in front of 5,000 fans in Paris to set up a semi-final battle with Djokovic on the red dirt.

Djokovic confirmed his spot in an eagerly-anticipated final-four showdown later the same day by beating Matteo Berrettini on the main show court.

The 13-time French Open champion will have watched from home as his long-time rival beat Italy’s Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 6-5.

That sets up a repeat of the 2020 French Open final, which Djokovic lost in straight sets to Nadal.

But Fabrice Santoro, the French former tennis player who won two Grand Slam doubles titles, reckons with Nadal playing at the level he produced to down Schwartzman, Djokovic stands little chance even though he himself is an 18-time major champion.

Asked if he believed Schwartzman could shock Nadal, Santoro said on ITV4: “Yes because Diego Schwartzman was playing an unbelievable match. He was leading many rallies.

“At one point he won 17 points over nine shots and Rafa only eight. That’s very unique on Court Philippe-Chatrier. I thought, ‘Oh maybe we’ll have a very big upset today.’ Then another Rafa starts to play.

“He just opened the turbo at 4-3 in the third. He was a new player with a new energy from that moment, 4-3 Schwartzman in the third until the end of the match.

“They played 44 points and Rafa won 37. Nobody can resist that. It’s not that Schwartzman played bad, it was just winner, winner, forehand, backhand, from every part of the court.”

Santoro expects a “special” showdown between Djokovic and Nadal after the Serbian got past Berrettini to set up a 58th career clash between the pair.

He continued: “If he was watching that match, Novak, he’d probably fairly expect that Diego will win the quarter-final. I don’t know if he watched the first two sets or the last one, because it was a completely different Rafa.

“The perception for Novak Djokovic is probably very different. If they play on Friday, they know each so well and have played so many times around the world, it’s always a special battle.”

Nadal is looking to win a 21st Grand Slam and his 14th at Roland Garros, knowing victory against Djokovic and then a defeat of Stefanos Tsitsipas or Alexander Zverev in the final will see him overtake Roger Federer for the most majors of all time in the men’s game.

Nadal and Djokovic only last met last month in the Italian Open final in Rome with the Spaniard winning 7–5, 1–6, 6–3.

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