Djokovic said playing Nadal at Roland Garros is unlike anything else in the sport.
“It’s the biggest challenge you can have playing against Nadal on this pitch,” he said. “Every time we face each other there is this added tension and expectation. The vibrations are different when walking on the court with him. “
And yet, due to the way players are ranked in Grand Slam tournaments, strictly according to the current standings, the match takes place in the semi-finals, a round before virtually anyone who knows the sport believes Nadal. , the defending champion, the No. 1 3 seed and 13 times winner of this event, is expected to face Djokovic, the world number one. 1.
But Nadal skipped the 2020 US Open due to pandemic concerns, lost in the Australian Open quarterfinals and played a limited program after that tournament, allowing Daniil Medvedev to occupy the second place in the world ranking.
“It’s a big difference,” Nadal said on Wednesday of his meeting with Djokovic in the semi-finals instead of the final. “The winner of this game has to keep going, and there is still a lot of work to be done to try and reach the final goal here.”
Nadal had to do a lot of work on Wednesday to secure his place in the semi-finals. For a little while, with intense late afternoon sun making the conditions deceptively grueling, Schwartzman had Nadal on the ropes.
An attractive player who has made the most of a body just over five and a half feet tall, Schwartzman is a top-notch defenseman. What he lacks in terms of leverage and power, he makes up for by having more tricks and spins on his ropes than almost any other player on the tour. His topspin lob, which always seems to land a few inches from the baseline, is as good as it gets.