Nadal Sweeps Into 12th Roland Garros Semi-final

Spaniard to now meet his long-time rival Federer

Rafael Nadal powered his way into a record-extending 12th semi-final on Tuesday at Roland Garros, where he will meet his long-time rival Roger Federer.

The 11-time champion was simply too strong for seventh-seeded Japanese star Kei Nishikori, who had reached his third quarter-final in the Paris after back-to-back five-set victories. Nadal triumphed 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in a Court Philippe-Chatrier clash, which lasted one hour and 50 minutes and was interrupted for more than one hour due to rain.

Nadal will now attempt to extend his 23-15 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Federer, with his first win over the Swiss since January 2014 in the Australian Open semi-finals. Nadal has a 13-2 record against Federer on clay, including wins at Roland Garros in the 2005 semi-finals, and the 2006-07-08 and 2011 finals. Read Nadal & Federer: The Legendary Rivalry

“The way that I have been playing has been very positive,” said Nadal. “I have been playing well, very solid. Winning good matches against tough opponents, like today. I am happy with that. Of course, after having Roger in front in the semi-finals is an extra thing. We shared the most important moments of our careers together on court, facing each other. So [it’ll] be another episode, and [I’m] happy for that and excited. It will be [a] special moment, and let's try to be ready for it.”

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Nadal came within one point of taking a 4-0 lead in the first set, which he clinched in 34 minutes with service breaks in the second and sixth games. Nishikori, with back-to-back five-set wins over No. 31 seed Laslo Djere and Benoit Paire in his legs, won 10 of his 22 service points.

There were three straight service breaks at the start of the second set, but Nadal held onto his early momentum and grew in confidence once more, committing just four unforced errors. He saved four break points at the start of the third set, then broke Nishikori at 2-1.

Nadal closed out to love for a 5-2 lead upon the resumption of play, following a 60-minute break, and soon completed his 91st win in 93 matches at Roland Garros. Fifteen minutes later, on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, Federer finished off Wawrinka in four sets.

“I try to put 100 per cent [effort] on the court even though my tank was very low today,” said Nishikori. “I was frustrated too much with my tennis today… Maybe if I could [have] been a little more positive today, maybe I had a little more chance, but I think I learned many things from this week. [It was a] very good tournament this week.”

The 33-year-old Spaniard, who has a 19-3 record on red dirt in 2019, came into the Grand Slam championship on the back of lifting his ninth trophy at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia crown in Rome (d. Djokovic).

“Today has been a positive victory against Kei,” said Nishikori. “I did the things well, what I had to do, I think. I think the ball is flying well, and that's it. I have been improving during the whole clay-court season. Every tournament will be more. And now is the moment to play at the highest level, and we hope to be able to make that happen.”

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