‘The last three and a half months have been…’
One thing you didn’t want to do in the later stages of the Majors between 2005 and 2018 was meet Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. The Spaniard played his first Major semifinal at Roland Garros 2005 and added 27 semis to his tally at Roland Garros 2018.
During those 13 years, Rafa only lost three Major semi-finals in 2008 and 2009, winning the remaining 24 and earning plenty of chances to claim a Major trophy. Nadal improved his score in the Majors semifinals to a mind-boggling 24-3 following a one-sided 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory over Juan Martin del Potro at Roland Garros 2018.
It took the Spaniard two hours and ten minutes to emerge on top and advance to the 11th Roland Garros final. It was Rafa’s 450th ATP meeting on clay and 414th win, losing just 36 matches on the beloved surface at the time.
Nadal unseated del Potro for the tenth time in 15 meetings and scored the 236th victory in a Major. It was Juan Martin’s best result in Paris in nine years, but he was unable to contend for a place in the final after losing ground in sets two and three.
Nadal faced seven break points, six in the first set. He turned them all down and mounted the pressure on the other side. Del Potro served at 75%, but that didn’t help him, especially after the opening four service games.
The Argentine lost 45% of the points in his games and was broken five times out of the nine chances Rafa was offered. The Spaniard played some impressive tennis after taking the first set, especially in the second, when he completely outplayed del Potro to march towards the finish.
Nadal had 35 winners and 19 unforced errors, while Delpo shot 20 winners and 32 errors. He failed to impose his shots or move Nadal out of his comfort zone. The Argentine could only have had a chance if he had played aggressive tennis and used every opportunity to attack.
Nadal sounded positive
Speaking to Angelo Mangiante on Sky Sports, Rafael Nadal shed light on his relationship with Swiss maestro Roger Federer. “With Roger, I have a good relationship and a special feeling. After the victory, he wrote me a message to compliment me,” Nadal said.
Nadal also expressed his happiness at his Roland Garros victory, highlighting the difficulties he had to overcome to emerge with the trophy in Paris. “It’s an incredible story, difficult for me to explain, but that’s the way things are and I’m particularly happy.
The last three and a half months have been difficult, there has been a lot of work behind it but also with many limitations. Being able to go all the way to Roland Garros with a win is very exciting,” said Nadal.