Rafa on a roll


Paris, October 7

Add “latest-finishing match” and “13 semifinals reached” to the considerable roster of French Open records owned by Rafael Nadal. The 12-time champion withstood an early challenge from 19-year-old Jannik Sinner and pulled away to win 7-6(4) 6-4 6-1 in a quarterfinal that ended at nearly 1:30am on Wednesday on a windy night with the temperature around 12deg;C. Competition can continue that deep into the night this year because it’s the first time artificial lights are being used for play at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament.

“Of course it’s not ideal (to) finish a match at 1:30 in the morning. But the problem is the weather. It’s too cold to play. Honestly, it’s very, very cold to play tennis, no?” Nadal said, calling it a “little bit dangerous for the body play with these very heavy conditions.”

Their quarterfinal began after 10:30pm on Tuesday. It was the last match of the day on a packed schedule at Court Philippe Chatrier, which included five contests instead of the usual four because one was postponed by rain a day earlier. And Nadal-Sinner also was delayed by No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman’s five-hour, five-set victory over No. 3 Dominic Thiem. “I really don’t know why they put five matches on Chatrier today,” Nadal said. “That was a risk.”

No. 2 Nadal hasn’t lost a set in the tournament and will take a 9-1 head-to-head edge against Schwartzman into their meeting in Friday’s semifinals. “Two days to practice, to rest a little bit and to recover, and just try to be ready,” Nadal said.

Schwartzman has this going for him: He won their most recent matchup, beating Nadal last month on clay at a tuneup in Rome. — AP

Marathon man

Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman outlasted Dominic Thiem in a brutal claycourt war of attrition to prevail 7-6(1) 5-7 6-7(6) 7-6(5) 6-2 and reach his first Grand Slam semifinal. Schwartzman had never beaten a top-five player at a Grand Slam but the 28-year-old was relentless in his pursuit of victory in a gripping duel. Both players appeared to be running on empty at times as they slugged out long rallies from the baseline for five hours and eight minutes.

Tsitsipas too good

Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas reached his second Grand Slam semifinal as he raised his game after a slow start to defeat Russian Andrey Rublev 7-5 6-2 6-3. Before the quarter-final, the 13th-seeded Rublev had won both previous tour-level meetings against fellow 22-year-old Tsitsipas.

Fighter Kenin

Fourth seed Sofia Kenin claimed her maiden French Open semifinal spot as she fought to a 6-4 4-6 6-0 victory against fellow American Danielle Collins. The Australian Open champion set up a clash with Czech seventh seed Petra Kvitova. Collins was bothered by abdominal pains in the third set, looking unable to give her maximum effort in the finale.

Kvitova’s power

Kvitova put in a powerful display to breeze past unseeded German Laura Siegemund 6-3 6-3 and reach her second semifinal at the French Open after a gap of eight years. The 30-year-old, a two-time champion at Wimbledon, is yet to lose a set at this year’s tournament. reuters

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