Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro will have to play on back to back days after the rain delayed the end of their quarter final matches until Thursday. It should see both players on a level playing field, even more so with both of them feeling it a bit physically after their matches. Nadal remains the overwhelming favourite to win an 11th title while Del Potro is aiming for his first final.
Nadal was below par for much of his four set victory over Diego Schwartzman, falling down a set and a break before a comeback win against the Argentinian. Nadal was down 4-6 2-3 before the first rain delay, going on to lose just four games from then on for a 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory. He admitted he was a different player after the delay. “I played more aggressive. I continued the level of intensity that I played after the first stop. And in my opinion, the match changed,” Nadal said. “Of course he’s a tough opponent, and he’s going to always be a tough match. But at the same time, I think after the first rain delay, the match changed a lot because I played more aggressive with high intensity and the things were more on my side.”
There was concern that Del Potro would not play in Paris after injury worries but he fought through and has been heavily rewarded for it. “I’m feeling so, so happy that I made the right decision for play here, I am doing well. Of course, I didn’t expect to get in semi-finals a couple of weeks before. But now I’m here, and I’m still alive. Physically I’m good, and hopefully I can be ready for tomorrow.” he said. He came from a break down in the third set win in four sets 7-6 5-7 6-3 7-5, extending his record over the Croatian to 11-2.
Playing a strong server and power hitter like Del Potro will be a completely different test for Nadal, who has suffered a number of losses to the Argentinian (9-5 head to head). If Nadal looks as lifeless as he did in the early parts of his match against Schwartzman, we could see him lose a match at the French Open for just the third time.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in four sets