Rafael Nadal into US Open semi-final after straight sets win over Diego Schwartzman

Rafael Nadal into US Open semi-final after straight sets win over Diego Schwartzman as Spaniard targets his 19th Grand Slam title

  • Rafa Nadal defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-4 7-5 6-2 in US Open quarter-final
  • Spaniard remains on course for the 19th Grand Slam title of his career
  • Nadal was pushed close in the opening two sets but eventually prevailed 
  • He advances to play No 24 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the semi-finals

Rafael Nadal kept pulling away in his US Open quarter-final, then getting reeled back in by Diego Schwartzman.

In the first set, Nadal led 4-0 before Schwartzman got to 4-all. In the second, Nadal went up 5-1 before Schwartzman made it 5-all.

It took more than two hours just for those two sets. Eventually, both were claimed by Nadal.

Rafael Nadal has made it through to the US Open semi-finals, beating Diego Schwartzman 

The Spaniard was pushed close in the opening two sets before coming through in three

The Spaniard was pushed close in the opening two sets before coming through in three

The Spaniard was pushed close in the opening two sets before coming through in three

Schwartzman and Nadal shake hands at the end of their quarter-final at Flushing Meadows

Schwartzman and Nadal shake hands at the end of their quarter-final at Flushing Meadows

Schwartzman and Nadal shake hands at the end of their quarter-final at Flushing Meadows

And so, ultimately, was the match and a berth in a 33rd Grand Slam semi-final, who prevented Schwartzman from reaching his first by winning 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 after 12:30 am on Thursday morning in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are both out of the bracket, but Nadal is still around, meaning at least one member of the Big Three is in the semis at a 62nd consecutive major tournament.

That trio has combined to win the last 11 Slam trophies – and Nadal is going to be heavily favored to make that 12.

None of the other men left has played in a major final, let alone won one. Nadal, though, is closing in on a fourth championship at the US Open and his 19th at all majors, which would move him only within one of Federer’s record for men.

On Friday, Nadal will play No 24 Matteo Berrettini, a 23-year-old from Rome who is Italy’s first male semi-finalist in New York since 1977.

Nadal reaches to make a return as he remains on course for a 19th career Grand Slam win

Nadal reaches to make a return as he remains on course for a 19th career Grand Slam win

Nadal reaches to make a return as he remains on course for a 19th career Grand Slam win

Schwartzman rues a missed shot as his US Open campaign came to a close on Wednesday

Schwartzman rues a missed shot as his US Open campaign came to a close on Wednesday

Schwartzman rues a missed shot as his US Open campaign came to a close on Wednesday

Berrettini barely got there, edging No 13 Gael Monfils 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5) on Wednesday.

The other men’s semi-final will be No 5 Daniil Medvedev of Russia and the 78th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

Dimitrov won a five-setter Tuesday night against Federer, who was hampered by an issue with his upper back. Medvedev won his quarter-final in four sets against Stan Wawrinka, who had built a big lead in the fourth round against Djokovic when the defending champion stopped because of pain in his left shoulder.

A year ago, it was Nadal whose body broke down: He retired from his semi-final against runner-up Juan Martin del Potro because of a bad knee.

This time, on a muggy night with the humidity above 50 per cent, the left-hander raised some concern by having a trainer come out to rub a cream into that forearm during a changeover early in the third set.

At the next changeover, Nadal flexed his right forearm and was visited again by the trainer, took a salt pill and guzzled some drinks, then shook that arm between points in the following game.

Nadal flexes his muscles as he celebrates winning a point during his late night match

Nadal flexes his muscles as he celebrates winning a point during his late night match

Nadal flexes his muscles as he celebrates winning a point during his late night match

Shakira and Gerard Pique watch the match between Nadal and Schwartzman in New York

Shakira and Gerard Pique watch the match between Nadal and Schwartzman in New York

Shakira and Gerard Pique watch the match between Nadal and Schwartzman in New York

Whatever might have been wrong, Nadal managed to play his best when it mattered the most against the 20th-seeded Schwartzman, an Argentine serenaded by loud choruses of ‘Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!’ by an audience that included former San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili.

Nadal came up with a service break in the last game of each of the opening two sets, then the last one he would need made it 4-2 in the third and he broke yet again to end it. Now Nadal becomes Berrettini’s problem.

Berrettini describes his mental coach as a big help and a best friend. They’ve been speaking on the phone before and after every match. And they certainly had plenty to chat about when it came to this latest victory.

Berrettini double-faulted away his initial match point and then needed four more to finally put away Monfils after nearly four hours.

‘He told me, `I need to thank you, because I thought that everyone is born once and dies once. But during that match, I was born and died 15 or 16 times,’ Berrettini said about his conversation with the mental coach he’s worked with for several years. 

‘I collapsed and got back up. I collapsed and got back up. That match point. Those other chances. I was down then I came back. It’s a great source of pride for me.’

In truth, the denouement was hardly a thing of beauty, with both men, clearly spent, fighting themselves and the tension of the moment as much as the guy on the other side of the net.

Monfils finished with 17 double-faults but managed to avoid any throughout the entire, exhausting fifth set until he served at 6-5 – and then he had three in that game, plus another two in the deciding tiebreaker, often doubling over between points to rest and catch his breath.

‘A very bad day for me, serving,’ Monfils said.

Berrettini acknowledged the obvious afterward, too, saying he felt ‘a little bit tight.’

You think?

It all was a bit of a whir.

‘Right now, I don’t remember any points, just the (last) match point, you know?’ he said. ‘I remember also the double-fault; I have to be honest.’

 

DistinctAthlete.com is an entertaining sports site. The site specializes in viral sports content. Content includes controversial and original opinions, news stories, off-beat stories, humorous videos, entertaining photos, exclusive interviews, and witty banter between the writers and commenters. Distinct Athlete was launched in May of 2012 and has been featured and/or cited on several prominent sports sites.

Warning: require(/home/distinc6/public_html/distinctathlete.com/wp-content/plugins/td-composer/legacy/Newspaper): failed to open stream: Success in /home/distinc6/public_html/distinctathlete.com/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1510

Warning: require(/home/distinc6/public_html/distinctathlete.com/wp-content/plugins/td-composer/legacy/Newspaper): failed to open stream: No such device in /home/distinc6/public_html/distinctathlete.com/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1510

Fatal error: require(): Failed opening required '/home/distinc6/public_html/distinctathlete.com/wp-content/plugins/td-composer/legacy/Newspaper/' (include_path='.:/usr/local/php71/pear') in /home/distinc6/public_html/distinctathlete.com/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1510