Rafael Nadal outlasts Schwartzman to reach 11th French Open semifinal
No. 1 seeded Spaniard will play Juan Martin del Potro
Rafael Nadal's torrid run through the French Open continued Thursday with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over 11th-seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman to advance to the semifinals at Roland Garros in Paris.
The top-ranked Spaniard will next face another Argentine in Juan Martin del Potro, who upset third-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.
Nadal's match against Schwartzman was delayed by rain Wednesday with the Spaniard up 5-3 and serving ahead 30-15 in the second set after dropping the first, ending his streak of 37 consecutive sets won at the Paris event. When play resumed Thursday, Nadal got the two points he needed to claim the set and had all the momentum from there.
Nadal fought off four break points in the decisive eighth game of the third set and added four more break points saved on his way to victory in the fourth set. Schwartzman, who hit 20 winners in the first set, had only 17 in the final three.
"I played more aggressive. I continued the level of intensity that I played after the first stop. And in my opinion, the match changed," Nadal said. "Of course he's a tough opponent, and he's going to always be a tough match. But at the same time, I think after the first rain delay, the match changed a lot because I played more aggressive with high intensity and the things were more on my side."
With the win, the 32-year-old Nadal is into the semifinals at Roland Garros for the 11th time. He is the third man in the Open era to reach 11 semifinals at a single Grand Slam event, joining Switzerland's Roger Federer (Australian Open, 14; Wimbledon, 12) and American Jimmy Connors (US Open, 14; Wimbledon, 11).
Nadal's match against the fifth-seeded del Potro on Friday will mark his third consecutive day of competition, though the 10-time Roland Garros champion isn't fazed by the extra work.
"I played already days in a row here in the past. I hope to be ready for it. I really believe that I am enough fit and ready to hold," Nadal said. "[Del Potro plays an] aggressive game from the end of the court, the baseline. And I have to play aggressively. If I play defensively and I don't take intensity, I will be lost."
Del Potro through
Del Potro's win over Cilic on Thursday was an emotional one for the sixth-ranked 29-year-old, who will return to the top four of the ATP rankings for the first time since February 2014 on Monday. Their match was also initially suspended by rain headed for a tiebreaker at 6-6 in the first set.
Del Potro claimed the tiebreaker, and though he faltered late in the second set, he regained control of the match with five straight wins to claim the third. Del Potro and Cilic alternated games in the fourth set before del Potro broke his opponent in the 11th game and served out the match.
Del Potro struck 19 aces and added 31 winners in the victory, while Cilic was undone by 74 unforced errors. Del Potro is into the semifinals at Roland Garros for the second time, having lost to Federer on the stage in 2009.
"It's tough to speak now,'' the del Potro said. "It has been a long time without good feelings. I had three surgeries on my left wrist. I was close to quit.''
Del Potro has had success against Nadal in the past, with five wins in their 14 meetings. Del Potro has claimed two of the last three after losing five straight from 2011-13.
"I don't know if I will win, but I will take a big love from you," Del Potro told the crowd. "That's the most important for me.''
Halep in second straight final
On the women's side, top-ranked Simona Halep will have another shot in the French Open final.
Twice the runner-up in Paris, Halep has qualified for the final by defeating 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4.
Halep converted her first match point when Muguruza sent a final backhand long.
It will be Halep's second consecutive Grand Slam final after she lost the title match at the Australian Open in January.
"I played again one of my best matches on clay," Halep said after coming back from a break down in the second set.
Halep is guaranteed to remain the world No. 1 after the tournament.
Stephens wins All-American matchup
Sloane Stephens' clash with Madison Keys represented a rematch of the 2017 US Open final, which Stephens won. The matchup was the first All-American semifinal match at Roland Garros since 2002.
"It's never easy playing someone from your country, let alone someone you actually care about and you're friends with," Stephens said afterward. "It's very difficult. I think more when I do play Madi.
"We are always very competitive. But it's a little weird. There's not as much 'come ons,' and things like that. We have a lot of respect for each other. It's a little different in that aspect. But I think we always compete well and play good matches."
Living the dream!<a href="https://twitter.com/SloaneStephens?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SloaneStephens</a> reaches her first Roland-Garros final as she defeats Madison Keys 6-4 6-4. Simona Halep awaits in the trophy battle.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RG18?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RG18</a> <a href="https://t.co/LbFA2R0cxU">pic.twitter.com/LbFA2R0cxU</a>—@rolandgarros
Stephens battled out to a 3-1 lead in the first set, but Keys wouldn't go away easily. The two traded games the remainder of the set, allowing Stephens to seal it on her serve in the 10th game.
Stephens broke Keys to begin the second set and once again established a 3-1 lead. Stephens would break Keys again to improve her lead to 5-2 before being broken herself the next game and eventually serving out the match in the 10th game.
Stephens and Halep will face each other in the final in Paris on Saturday.
Canada's Dabrowski drops mixed doubles final
Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski and Croatia's Mate Pavic lost their mixed doubles final at the French Open on Thursday.
Dabrowski, a 26-year-old from Ottawa, and Pavic dropped the first set against Taiwan's Latisha Chan and Croatia's Ivan Dodig 6-1 but came back to win the second 7-6 (5). Dabrowski and Pavic lost the super-tiebreak 10-8.
Pavic and Dabrowski were the top seed in Paris, while Chan and Dodig were seeded second.
Dabrowski teamed with India's Rohan Bopanna to win last year's French Open mixed-doubles title and with Pavic to win the Australian Open mixed title earlier this year.
With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press