Rafael Nadal to face Novak Djokovic in French Open semifinal

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fairly easy
Two points from a straight-set victory, Novak Djokovic seemingly was well on his way to a French Open semifinal showdown against Rafael Nadal when so much went awry Wednesday night.
Consecutive unforced errors by the top-seeded Djokovic helped give away a tiebreaker to barrel-chested Matteo Berrettini. Then there was a 21 1/2-minute delay in the fourth set while the first spectators allowed to attend a night session at Court Philippe Chatrier were cleared out because of a COVID-19 curfew. And a face-first stumble by Djokovic drew blood from his left palm when he braced himself against the court.

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Still, Djokovic held on and moved on, pulling out the quarterfinal victory against No. 9 Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in a match that ended shortly before midnight with Djokovic yelling toward his entourage.

Now comes a semifinal Friday against a familiar foe in a rematch of last year's Roland Garros final, but a round earlier: Nadal, who is 105-2 at Roland Garros.

"We know each other well," the third-seeded Nadal said. "Everybody knows that in these kind of matches, anything can happen."

Nadal's French Open set streak ended earlier Wednesday. His pursuit of a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title — and what would be a 14th in Paris alone — remained very much intact, however.

Nadal shrugged off dropping a set at the clay-court major tournament for the first time in two years by whipping violent forehands punctuated with first pumps and yells of "Vamos!" en route to a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory over 10th-seeded Diego Schwartzman.

"For anybody, it's very difficult to play against him. He's feeling very comfortable on court," Schwartzman said after falling to 1-11 against Nadal. "He's Rafa, and he's always finding the way."

Nadal reached his 14th semifinal in Paris; Djokovic his 11th. It's Djokovic's 40th trip to the final four at any major, Nadal's 35th. Nadal and Roger Federer share the men's mark of 20 Grand Slam…
Associated Press
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