Nadal Nets 900th Win, Reaches Roland Garros Quarter-finals
Spanish star moves into 34th Grand Slam championship quarter-final
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal became only the fifth player in the past 50 years to record 900 match wins (900-187) on Monday for a place in the Roland Garros quarter-finals. The 10-time champion follows in the footsteps of Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl and Guillermo Vilas as one of the Top 5 Open Era match wins leaders.
The Spanish superstar, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on 3 June, improved to 83-2 lifetime at the clay-court Grand Slam championship with a 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(4) fourth-round victory over one-time practice partner and German debutant Maximilian Marterer on Philippe-Chatrier Court.
“The match in general terms has been positive,” said Nadal. “[The score] 6-3, 6-2 was a very positive 12 games for me. Then, in the third set, I had the chance at the beginning to get the break and probably take an important advantage to close the match, but I didn't convert it. I then made a couple of mistakes with my serve, and then I suffered in a tough third set. I stopped [using my] legs a little bit, in terms of playing aggressive, and that, of course, made the match more equal. He's a good player.”
Nadal, who is now 27-2 on the year that includes three clay-court titles, will next prepare to extend his 5-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against No. 11 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, who recovered from two sets and 3-5 down to beat sixth-seeded South African Kevin Anderson. Schwartzman also reached last year’s US Open quarter-finals (l. to Carreno Busta).
“Today was important test,” said Nadal. “I am in quarter-finals and the biggest test now is the next round [against Schwartzman]… You go on court. You can win, you can lose. That's the only thing that you need to be ready for.”
Marterer, who lost in the second round of qualifying last year, got off to a confident start, relying on his powerful forehand to win the first two games. Striking deep to Nadal’s backhand, Marterer made clever use of his slice backhand and was quick to strike forehand approaches. Nadal worked his way back by playing his best tennis, saving two break points in the fifth game, and breaking down Marterer physically in long rallies.
Nadal righted his ship and grew in confidence with five straight games for a 5-2 advantage and later bided his time in baseline rallies to take a 2-0 lead in the second set. While he tightened up his serve, losing just five points in the second set and broke for a second time for 5-2, a lapse in concentration early in the third set handed Marterer a way back. Clearly annoyed, Nadal bounced back immediately by breaking Marterer to 30 for 3-3, but the No. 70-ranked German remained competitive to the end of the two-hour and 30-minute encounter.
Nadal, who has now won 37 completed sets at Roland Garros, improved to 23-1 on red dirt this year, when Marterer hit a backhand long. In the past seven weeks, Nadal has won 11th titles at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Nishikori), the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas) and his eighth trophy at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia (d. A. Zverev).
“I know I played some great matches already here in the tournament,” said Marterer. I just wanted to challenge him today, and I think that is what I achieved.”
The 22-year-old Marterer, competing in the main draw of a major championship for the third time, beat Ryan Harrison in the first round, Denis Shapovalov in the second round and lucky loser Jurgen Zopp in the third round.