French Open: 'You have to not think about Rafa' – Schwartzman hoping it's third time lucky against Nadal

By Sports Desk June 07, 2021

Facing Rafael Nadal at the French Open is arguably the toughest challenge in sport, such is the King of Clay's incredible record at Roland Garros and, for Diego Schwartzman, forgetting about the 13-time champion and his reputation will be half the battle when he faces him in Wednesday's quarter-final.

Schwartzman is enjoying another excellent run at Roland Garros, having reached the semi-finals last year only to be defeated by Nadal in their 11th career meeting.

The Argentinian saw off Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets on Monday before Nadal recovered from a slow start to beat Jannik Sinner in three and set up a reunion in the last eight.

They are the only two players remaining in the draw who are yet to drop a set.

Schwartzman has a 1-10 record against Nadal but has the distinction of having beaten the Spaniard on clay, doing so in Rome in 2020.

And he took a set off Nadal in their first clash at Roland Garros back in 2018, though he could not do the same last year.

Asked about the prospect of a four or five-hour match with Nadal, Schwartzman told a media conference: "I think at the beginning of every match against Rafa, you have to walk on the court thinking to win the match, to have opportunities, to get opportunities, and think about something else and not think about Rafa on the other side of the net.

"If you think about the four, five hours you are going to play, if you think about everything about Rafa in Roland Garros, he's very difficult to play.

"You know, you have to go on court, think about the tactics, think about how to play your best game. 

"It's Rafa and you never know what is going to happen, and everyone knows that it's going to be very difficult.

"Playing against Rafa in these kind of tournaments, it's always, I mean, a good step, a good time to know how good are you playing. It's always a good challenge.

"I want to be there one more time. I beat him one time, so is not the same thing. I know we played two times here were good matches, and now let's see what happens. I have to enjoy today, day free tomorrow, and let's see what happens on Wednesday."

Nadal heads into the contest content with his overall performance against Sinner, who failed to serve for the first set and could not produce a turnaround in the second despite fighting from 4-0 down to get back on serve at 4-3.

"I think I started the first two games playing great. Then I had a bad game with 2-0 and with the wind helping, so that was a big mistake. Then I started to play too much against his backhand and too far from the baseline. So then I give him the chance to be inside the court and to have the control of the point from inside," said Nadal.

"From that position he's dangerous. I was a little bit farther every time, no, from the baseline. Then I was able to have the break back in the 5-4 with the wind helping. I know that was a chance. So it was important to hold my serve with the 5-3 against the wind.

"Then with the 5-4, you know that you can have your chances. So that's what happened. I won that game. I had the break. Then I play a solid game with my serve.

"Then from that moment to 7-5, 4-0 I think I played very good level of tennis. Then again, couple of mistakes and he played well, honestly. Four-three until that moment to the
end of the match I think I played great."

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    Serbian star Djokovic, who is bidding to become the first player other than Rafael Nadal to win consecutive men's singles titles at Roland Garros since Gustavo Kuerten triumphed in 2000 and 2001, produced a ruthless display to blow away world number 195 Bedene in just one hour and 44 minutes.

    Djokovic started as he meant to go on, launching an onslaught which forced Bedene to save five break points throughout his first two service games, before the Slovenian finally succumbed to a break in his third.

    The top seed was virtually perfect on his own serve, winning 94 per cent of points on first serve in the opening set before picking up another decisive break just three games into the second.

    Despite appearing to struggle with the glare at times on a sun-bathed Court Philippe-Chatrier, Djokovic continued his professional display to move closer to victory, recording just three unforced errors to his opponent's 13 in the second set.

    To the delight of some in the crowd, Bedene forced his first and only break point of the encounter in the opening game of the third set, only for Djokovic to power a fierce volley past the 32-year-old before recovering to hold serve.

    The world number one did not look back from there, breaking to love in the fourth game before wrapping up a routine win after forcing two match points on Bedene's serve to set up a seventh career meeting with Schwartzman, against whom he boasts a 100 per cent record.

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    Djokovic 30/18
    Bedene 23/37

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    Djokovic 9/1
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    She later posed for pictures with the boy and said sorry for her moment of frustration at a post-match news conference.

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    "My whole career I didn't do something like this, and I feel really bad and sorry. So I'm just going to say again, sorry for the incident and it was just an embarrassing moment for me.

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    Tsitsipas - who hit 25 aces - displayed some of his oft-seen frustration as he struggled to stay on top of his opponent, and was asked if his hardest obstacle was Kolar or himself.

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    "Look, last year there were moments where it was about me and the way I deal with situations on the court, not focusing that much on who is on the other side. It's all about perspective. It's sometimes good to focus on what you are doing, but also if you're not feeling great, you have to see the other side too."

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