With Nadal recording 0.96 chances per game on return this season on clay, it is evident that Del Potro will have to serve much better to even have a chance of keeping it close against the King of Clay, who has broken opponents 50.5% of the time on clay in the last 12 months. Our panelists offer their predictions on both matches.
A break came early in the fourth for the 32-year-old and although Schwartzman showed great heart to keep swinging until the bitter end, the Spanish No. 1 soon advanced to the final four.
Garbine Muguruza overwhelmed Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-1 in a matchup of past French Open champions to reach the semifinals. "The advantage, of course, is you play (with) nothing to lose", said Kuerten, who went on to become the world number one.
Hard to believe now, but it wasn't long ago Juan Martin del Potro wanted to walk away from tennis. Additionally, emotion and momentum has to be on the side of Del Potro, who is thrilled to be at this stage, while Nadal faces all the pressure of expectations.
Barring such a flawless storm, though, the tournament is Nadal's to lose.
Brandon: After a shaky start, Nadal bounced back and put on a clinical display to dispatch of Schwartzman. The last one in US Open I lost against Rafa.
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Nadal's match against Schwartzman was delayed by rain Wednesday with the Spaniard up 5-3 and serving ahead 30-15 in the second set after dropping the first, ending his streak of 37 consecutive sets won at the Paris event.
Del Potro has had success against Nadal in the past, with five wins in their 14 meetings.
Yesh: Cecchinato's run here has been unreal. I am so proud to be playing tennis. But beating Thiem, on this surface, will probably be a step too far for the current World #72. "It has been a long time without good feelings".
John McEnroe can not get his head around the incredible run from Marco Cecchinato at Roland Garros - and is glad Novak Djokovic is no longer hugging everyone. However, Cecchinato is on fire and we've already seen the upsets this Italian can cause. In Wimbledon, I lost against [Novak] Djokovic.
Having been 3-1 down in the deciding set against Alexander Zverev in the Rome final, the rain came and Nadal took the set 6-3 - and with it the title.
In a bit of unplanned irony, play began Thursday shortly after Sweden's Robin Soderling - who profited from a combination of heavy weather and self-conviction in 2009 to hand Nadal his first-ever defeat at Roland Garros - responded to numerous inquiries by holding a rare press conference himself.