Roland Garros Day 13: Nadal, Djokovic set up blockbuster final

  • Matt Trollope

Rafael Nadal stands just one match win from a men’s record-equalling 20th Grand Slam singles title after beating Diego Schwartzman in the Roland Garros semifinals on Friday.

In the final he will meet world No.1 Novak Djokovic, who missed a match point in the third set before eventually subduing a gallant Stefanos Tsitsipas in five to reach a fifth Roland Garros final, and first since 2016.

Also on Friday, defending champions Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic returned to the women’s doubles final while Japan’s Yui Kamiji was crowned women’s wheelchair singles champion

Djokovic survives Tsitsipas fightback

Unimpeded by the shoulder and neck issues that troubled him during his quarterfinal win, Djokovic appeared to be cruising to a straight sets win over the fifth seed.

But despite earning a match point when leading 6-3 6-2 5-4, Djokovic could not convert it, and a re-energised Tsitsipas reeled off five games in a row to completely alter the course of the match.

After stopping the rot with a break in the third game, Djokovic earned a further eight break points across the fifth, seventh and ninth games – only for Tsitsipas to save them all. Djokovic also led 40-15 when serving at 4-5, but stumbled, allowing the Greek to force a fifth set.

Novak Djokovic defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Roland Garros 2020 semifinals.
Novak Djokovic (L) defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas (R) in the semifinals and next faces Rafael Nadal, to whom he lost the 2012 and 2014 finals in Paris. Djokovic won their most recent meeting in the 2015 Roland Garros quarterfinals. (Getty Images)

Djokovic earned more break points in the third game of the fifth and finally converted with a drop shot winner. He would not lose another game, running out a 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1 winner.

The world No.1 continues to thrive in 2020, having now won 37 of his 38 matches to set up a third final in Paris against Nadal, who is 12-0 in Roland Garros deciders.

Nadal sees off Schwartzman

Second seed Nadal was in control against Schwartzman, who, despite keeping the champion on court for more than three hours, still lost in straight sets, and was always playing from behind.

Nadal built leads of 4-1 in the first set, and 3-1 in both the second and third, before completing a 6-3 6-3 7-6(0) triumph.

The 12-time champion struck 38 winners on Court Philippe Chatrier, while Schwartzman’s tally of 24 was negated by exactly twice the number of unforced errors.

Nadal extended his head-to-head dominance to 10-1 over Schwartzman, who was appearing in his first Grand Slam semifinal. 

Schwartzman’s one victory had come in the Rome Masters quarterfinals less than three weeks ago.

Stat of the day

That Rome upset did not bode well for Schwartzman, given just how rare it is for an opponent to defeat Nadal twice in a row on clay.

The last player to do it was Djokovic five years ago, at Monte Carlo and Roland Garros in 2015.

With his victory over Schwartzman, Nadal improved on several already jaw-dropping statistics in Paris.

He is now 13-0 in Roland Garros semifinals, and becomes the first player to reach 13 finals at the same Grand Slam tournament.

He arrives in the final without dropping a set for the sixth time – after also doing so in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2017 – while his win-loss record at the event now stands at a staggering 99-2.

Swiatek’s doubles run ends

Polish teenage star Iga Swiatek’s attempt at claiming a rare Roland Garros singles-double sweep ended on Friday when she fell in the doubles semifinals.

Swiatek – who will play in Saturday’s singles final against Sofia Kenin – and partner Nicole Melichar fell 7-6(5) 1-6 6-4 on Court Suzanne Lenglen to American duo Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawczyk.

Guarachi and Krawczyk will play for their first Grand Slam title against second seeds Babos and Mladenovic, who returned to the Roland Garros final with a 6-2 4-6 7-5 win over No.4 seed Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

Kamiji crowned champion

In an all-Japanese final, No.2 seed Kamiji beat Momoko Ohtani 6-2 6-1 in 57 minutes to claim her fourth Roland Garros women’s wheelchair singles title.

British duo Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid continued their dominance at the men’s wheelchair doubles majors in 2020, adding the Roland Garros title to their Australian and US Open trophies with victory over Shingo Kunieda and Gustavo Fernandez.

In the quad wheelchair doubles final, American David Wagner and Dutchman Sam Schroder combined to upstage defending champions Dylan Alcott and Andy Lapthorne in a nail-biting finish, 4-6 7-5 [10-8].

Quotes of the day

"I'm not feeling exhausted physically so much after tonight's match, obviously almost four hours. It was a great battle. But I feel fine. I think a day and a half will be plenty of time for me to recover. I'm really looking forward to a great battle with Rafa."
- Novak Djokovic, after defeating Tsitsipas, turns his attention to Sunday's final.

“The only thing I know is to play against Novak, I need to play my best. Without playing my best tennis, situation is very difficult. Is one of the toughest opponents possible. But I am here to keep trying my best.”
- Rafael Nadal, looking ahead to the final.

“He has reached almost perfection, Novak, in his game style, the way he plays, which is unbelievable to see honestly. That inspires me a lot to go out and work and try to reach that perfectionism, that ability to have everything on the court.”
- Stefanos Tsitsipas

“After Rome, he goes straight to practice. He went to improve the things that he did bad in Rome. That's why he's in the final right now.”
- Diego Schwartzman, who beat Nadal in the recent Rome quarterfinals before losing their re-match at Roland Garros. 

Tweet of the day

Day 14: Ones to watch

Saturday’s schedule is headlined by the women’s singles final between reigning AO champion Kenin and major final debutant Swiatek, who is yet to drop a set in six wins this fortnight.

The pair have never played on the pro tour, but did clash in the Roland Garros junior singles tournament in 2016 – a match won by Swiatek.

ORDER OF PLAY: Roland Garros Day 14

That match on Chatrier precedes the men’s doubles final which sees US Open champions Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares take on defending champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies.

Court Suzanne Lenglen features wheelchair finals action; the quad singles final between defending champion Dylan Alcott and Andy Lapthorne follows the men’s singles final pitting Joachim Gerard against Alfie Hewett, while the women’s doubles final closes the order of play. 

The junior singles finals will take place on Court 14, including an all-Swiss clash in the boys’ final between Dominic Stephan Stricker and Leandro Riedi.