Rafael Nadal was delighted to return to the French Open final after he exacted revenge on diminutive Argentine Diego Schwartzman.
Nadal, a 12-time champion in these parts, will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas or Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final after beating Schwartzman 6-3 6-3 7-6 (7-0).
He had lost in straight sets to Schwartzman in Rome in the buildup to this tournament but improved dramatically as he moved beyond the 12th seed to book his spot in a 13th French Open final.
Should he win, he will notch his 100th match win at Roland Garros and equal Roger Federer’s Grand Slam record as well as, obviously, picking up title No. 13 on the Parisian clay.
‘As always this is amazing for me to be into the final again,’ said Nadal during his on-court interview.
‘I know against Diego it’s very difficult until the end. He’s one of the players who makes more breaks on the tour, without a doubt. Two-and-a-half weeks ago I lost in Rome so I expected a very tough match.
‘I’m happy with the way I played, I think I’ve been improving and today has been a very positive match for me.
Asked to compare the defeat in Rome to his win on Friday, Nadal added: ‘I have played him a lot of times.
‘He’s got better and better every single time. In Rome I didn’t play my best and he’s playing very well every single day.
‘Three days ago, he played an amazing match against Dominic [Thiem] here. Of course, we took a look at that match, we took a look at the things that didn’t work there and the things we needed to change and we tried to make that happen.
‘Today it worked so I’m really happy for that.’
Mats Wilander, the seven-time major winner from Sweden, was watching on and believes Nadal showed exactly why he has a 99-2 winning record at Roland Garros.
‘I think today we saw the reasons why Rafa has the record he has,’ Wilander told Eurosport.
‘At Roland-Garros you have to be ready and willing to play when it is 30c hot when the sun is shining and the ball is bouncing.
‘Sometimes it is cold, even in May and June and I think today we saw the greatness of Rafa Nadal – it doesn’t really matter what the conditions are in the end. He is nearly impossible to beat.
‘Of course, he prefers the warmer weather, but even today you are going to have to play for five hours to take Nadal out on a slow clay court. He adjusts to the conditions at Roland-Garros better than anyone else, by far.’
Former British No. 1 Tim Henman added: ‘His record at Roland-Garros is a joke, it is absolutely phenomenal.
‘You look at his history, he’s got his 99th win, how he maintains the level of form, avoids injuries, and back in the 13th final without dropping a set is incredible.’
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