The Argentine will now be hoping to become only the eighth player to score more than one win on clay over the 19-time Grand Slam winner when they meet each other in the French Open semifinals on Friday.
On Tuesday, both players won their quarterfinal matchups in contrasting fashion. Rafael Nadal scored a straight-sets victory over Italian teen Jannik Sinner, while Schwartzman needed five sets to defeat US Open champion Dominic Thiem in a match that lasted over five hours.
Prior to their contest in Rome, Schwartzman had taken only two sets off Nadal in nine previous encounters. But his win in Rome showed that the Argentine now has the self-belief to compete with and overcome the best in the world.
Rafael Nadal believes he has to play his best to beat Diego Schwartzman in the semifinals
Known for his humility, Rafael Nadal never underestimates any opponent he comes up against. And he knows he will need to play his best against the Argentine if he wants to reach yet another Roland Garros final.
"Of course, it is a challenge. When you lost to somebody, is because he’s playing well. Today he played an amazing match against one of the best players of the world, without a doubt, especially on this surface." Nadal told the press after his win over Sinner. "I’m going to try to go on court, play my best, try to play my game, play aggressive, try to do something a little bit different than what I did in Rome, of course. Hope to be ready to play my best. That’s what I need. I going to give my best until the end."
Following his win over Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals, Schwarztman tried to underplay his chances against 12-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal (who was then yet to take the court for his quarter-final match against Sinner).
"I know Rafa is the guy who has to win or who is in the best position to win today, and maybe play the semifinal against him," Schwartzman told reporters. "But I will see the match, just trying to enjoy. I have two days free so I’m not thinking yet about the semifinal. If I see the history, I'm 10-1 down [to him]. I’m not sure if I'm going to have a lot of confidence (laughter). But, yeah, I know this week that I can beat him. That’s important thing."
Given the cold and heavier conditions at this year's event, the semifinal match between Rafael Nadal and Diego Schwartzman will likely be as much a physical battle as a mental one. The Spaniard will be the heavy favorite given his incredible record at the tournament, but Schwartzman can certainly make a match out of it.Published 07 Oct 2020, 15:20 IST