Paris, Oct 7 (efe-epa).- Spanish tennis icon Rafael Nadal qualified early Wednesday morning for the French Open semi-finals for the 13th time in his career with his defeat of Italy’s 19-year-old Jannik Sinner 7-6(4), 6-4 and 6-1 in a late evening match that began on Tuesday and lasted two hours and 49 minutes.
The world No. 2 will face off in the Roland Garros semi-finals against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, who dealt him a stunning 6-2, 7-5 defeat in the Masters 1,000 in Rome.
This is the first time that matches in the French Open can be played at night, given that artificial lighting is now being used at Roland Garros.
Nadal is gunning for his 13th French Open title and his 20th overall Grand Slam win, and if he achieves that feat, he would tie Roger Federer’s men’s record.
The Nadal-Sinner faceoff was the last match of the day on a packed schedule at Court Philippe Chatrier, having been delayed by Schwartzman’s grueling five-set win over Dominic Thiem.
Nadal is just three semi-finals outings shy of Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, who on Wednesday will try to qualify for the semis against Spain’s Pablo Carreño.
Nadal has never lost a set in the semi-finals.
“It’s very late, but … thanks for having put up with these really tough conditions,” Nadal told the public after the win.
“Sinner is a great talent who has many difficult shots. He will go far on the circuit. I was lucky to recover in the first set. Conditions were not so easy for me, but I’ve been able to get better,” he added.