Rafa Nadal lashes out at 'dangerous' French Open decision

AFP
·3-min read
Rafael Nadal is pictured celebrating a point won against Italy's Jannik Sinner.
Rafael Nadal criticised French Open officials for scheduling five matches on Court Philippe Chatrier, which led to his match against Jannik Sinner not starting until 10:30 at night. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal reached his 13th Roland Garros semi-final early Wednesday with a straight sets win over Italian teenager Jannik Sinner but claimed it was "dangerous" to finish at 01:30 in the morning when the temperature had plummeted to 12 degrees (53F).

Nadal, the 12-time champion, defeated 19-year-old Sinner 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-1 to clinch a 98th victory in his 100th match at the French Open.

TROUBLING: Disturbing footage amid French Open match-fixing furore

'UNDERPAID, UNDERVALUED': Serena Williams' bombshell claims

He will next face Diego Schwartzman, the diminutive Argentine over whom he holds a 9-1 career advantage, as he moves closer to equalling Roger Federer's all-time record of 20 majors.

However, Nadal, more accustomed to the bright sunshine of Mallorca than the autumn chill of a French Open pushed back four months due to the coronavirus pandemic, was unhappy with organisers who scheduled five matches on the main Court Philippe Chatrier.

"I know footballers play under these conditions, but they are all the time moving," said Nadal after the latest ever finishing match at the tournament.

"We stop, we come back, we stop on the changeovers. I think this is a little bit dangerous for the body with these very heavy conditions."

Nadal and Sinner only got on court at 10:30pm after Schwartzman and Thiem had taken five hours to decide their quarter-final.

They also had to wait for another women's last-eight tie to be completed after two others had kicked off the programme.

The sparse and shivering crowd that greeted them wore thick coats, scarves and hats.

"I don't know why they put five matches on Chatrier. It's a risk," added 34-year-old Nadal who finished his news conference at 02:10.

Nadal will be playing in a 34th semi-final at the majors.

Nadal sets up clay revenge match against Diego Schwartzman

Nadal's quest for a record-extending 13th title at Roland Garros gathered momentum, following a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 6-1 victory against the Italian.

The Spaniard, also looking to match Roger Federer's record of 20 grand slam men's singles titles, was stretched like rarely before by the 19-year-old Sinner.

However, the 19-time major winner came up with the big points when it mattered to set up a revenge match against Diego Schwartzman in the final four.

Argentina's Schwartzman is the last man to have beaten the King of clay on his favoured surface, inflicting an Italian Open quarter-finals defeat on Nadal just last month.

Rafael Nadal is pictured after defeating Jannik Sinner to progress to the French Open semi-finals.
Rafael Nadal won through to his 13th French Open semi-final after defeating Italy's Jannik Sinner. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

"It's a challenge to play Diego," Nadal admitted after his quarter-final victory.

"If I lost to him (it) is because he is playing well. He is one of the best players in the world.

"Final in Rome, semifinals here. He beat me there and that's a plus of confidence for him before our match."

Nadal goes into the match with Schwartzman with a 9-1 advantage in head-to-head clashes, and the Spaniard's most recent display has fans convinced he can claim a 13th French Open title.

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.