Rafael Nadal hasn’t quite looked the invincible man many saw him as coming into the French Open but he still remains the overwhelming favourite to take what will be an 11th French Open title. The quarter final exits of Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev leave less mystery for his likely final opponent, assuming he beats Diego Schwartzman and one of Marin Cilic or Juan Martin Del Potro.
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Nadal is still yet to drop a set but he didn’t have it all his own way against the young German Maximilian Marterer. He was down a break in sets one and three before emerging victorious in three sets, 6-3 6-2 7-6. It’s hard to really make anything of his play this week, with a few bad half sets against weaker opposition unlikely to tell you much about how he will compete against stronger competition.
Schwartzman is in a slam quarter final for the second time in three tournaments although his French Open run comes as less of a shock than the one at the US Open. The Argentinian is strong on clay and has a great return game which becomes more effective on the surface. He would have to come from two sets down to make it this far though, showing incredible fight to see off Kevin Anderson in five sets. He also broke when the South African was serving for the match in the fourth. “I was a little bit upset because at the beginning of the match I didn’t expect the first two sets [to be so one-sided],” said Schwartzman of the match. “I was thinking about my first three matches here, and I started the match with confidence. And then after one hour I was down 6-1, 6-2… Maybe that just helped me to be focused.”
Nadal shouldn’t get complacent but with an opponent in a similar vein to his countryman David Ferrer, he shouldn’t face too much trouble. The big hitting of either Marin Cilic or Juan Martin Del Potro await in the semi final with Del Potro in particularly a big threat if he is fully over his pre-tournament injury worries.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets