When Rafael Nadal followed Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors on a Major record

The Open era started in 1968, and 14 players have had at least 13 Major semi-finals. The list includes the most prominent names of the Open era except Rod Laver, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as the leading figures. Last October, Nadal earned another record at his beloved Roland Garros, becoming the third Open era player with 13 semi-finals at a single Major. Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer had stood alone on the exclusive charts until Rafa advanced into the last four in Paris for the 13th time, earning another massive achievement and extending his Roland Garros dominance. Jimmy Connors played in 14 semi-finals in front of the home crowd at the US Open, the last time in 1991 when he turned 40! Roger Federer joined the list twice at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, with Nadal entering the party following yet another impressive result in Paris.

The 34-year-old advanced into the title clash without losing a set, passing the opening four rounds without troubles and fighting hard against Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman to find himself in the title clash. Nadal took down the Argentine 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 in three hours and nine minutes, avenging the Rome loss and remaining on the title course. It was Nadal’s tenth victory over Schwartzman in 11 encounters, delivering the right shots to overpower the rival in straight sets. At 34 years and four months, Nadal became the third-oldest Roland Garros finalist in the Open era behind Andres Gimeno and Ken Rosewall, who achieved that 50 years ago.

Rafael Nadal became the third player with 13 semi-finals at a single Major.

As was expected, Rafa had to give his best against Diego, opening a 6-3, 6-3, 4-2 advantage before slowing down a bit, surviving a challenging service game at 5-5 and sealing the deal in the tie break to avoid spending more time on the court. Nadal saved nine out of 12 break chances and grabbed two breaks in each set to control the pace. Delivering aggressive tennis right after the serve, the Spaniard toppled the opponent in the shortest range up to four strokes and had the upper hand in the exchanges after firing 38 winners with 34 unforced errors. Schwartzman could not match those numbers or repeat Rome’s level in entirely different conditions, spraying too many mistakes and standing as a decent opponent only in the third set. The Spaniard was up a break twice in it. The Argentine erased the deficit and created those break chances at 5-5, denied by Rafa’s forehand winners. The defending champion claimed the tie break 7-0 to move over the top and earn another Major record.

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