PARIS — Diego Schwartzman knows he cannot afford to be awed by the challenge of facing 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
The Argentine counter-puncher said it will take a very high level of tennis for him to compete with Nadal, who has won the last 35 sets he has contested on the Parisian clay.
“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,” Schwartzman said.
“You have to go on court, think about the tactics, think about how to play your best game.”
Schwartzman’s only win in 11 encounters with Nadal came in Rome last year. However, just few weeks later, he was beaten by the Spaniard in straight sets in the French Open semifinals.
However, the 28-year-old is excited about having another crack at clay court’s ultimate challenge.
“Playing against Rafa in these kinds of tournaments, it’s always a good time to know how good are you playing,” Schwartzman said. “It’s always a good challenge. I want to be there one more time.”
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, having survived a huge scare in the fourth round against teenager Lorenzo Musetti, must overcome another Italian, Matteo Berrettini, for a place in the semifinals.
In the women’s quarterfinals, American teenager Coco Gauff bids to continue her dream run when she takes on Czech Barbora Krejcikova, while defending champ Iga Swiatek faces Greek Maria Sakkari.
Alexander Zverev settled some early nerves before beating Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 on Tuesday to reach the French Open semifinals for the first time.
Zverev will face fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who beat world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 7-5 in another quarterfinal match.
“Before, maybe the last few years, I was putting too much pressure on myself. Also obviously in the media I was seen, before Medvedev and Tsitsipas arrived, as this guy that was going to all of a sudden take over the tennis world,” the 24-year-old told a news conference.
“I was putting pressure on myself as well. I was not very patient with myself, which I feel like now maybe I learned how to deal with the situation a little bit better, I’m maybe a little bit calmer at the tournaments.”
Zverev came back from two sets down in his first-round match, but since then the German has been steamrollering his opponents and is hungry for more.
“Obviously it’s very nice to be in the semi-finals but that doesn’t satisfy me. I’ve been playing better and better and now we’ll see what happens next,” he said.
Having been knocked out in the quarter-finals twice before, by Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic, Zverev stood a better chance against the lower-ranked Fokina.
The Spaniard signalled his intentions by breaking in the first game, moving his opponent around and mixing it with drop shots.
Zverev broke straight back but looked out of sorts when the chair umpire corrected a line call, denying him another break.
However, Fokina struggled with his service games as Zverev’s confidence grew.
Zverev hit winner after winner, while his 21-year-old opponent failed to keep the ball on court, and raced to a routine win as he claimed his 15th consecutive set in Paris. (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Ken Ferris)