Extensive day and pure emotion in the Count of Godó. Rafael Nadal, top seed, went on to the semifinals of the ATP 500 in Barcelona and his rival on Saturday will be another Spaniard, Pablo Carreño Busta, who turned a very tough match to eliminate Argentine Diego Schwartzman at the close of Friday’s quarterfinals.
Nadal, the historic slow-court king, has just lost a Monte-Carlo quarter-final to another Top 10, Russia’s Andrey Rublev, and had given up a set in each of his two wins this week at the Catalan clay. He did not perform at the top again and, in fact, as soon as his game ended, he told his coach that he would go directly to another field to continue training and polishing details.
True to his perfectionist and winning line, Nadal had a gesture of a true great. The owner of 11 titles in Barcelona, with 13 at Roland Garros, beat Briton Cameron Norrie 6-1, 6-4, before a Spanish public that misses his best days, since he made many mistakes again.
Nadal’s plus was that he reached the mark of 450 wins in his entire career on slow courts, being the third mark, still far from the top two on that list. Argentine Guillermo Vilas accumulated 681 hits on clay and another Spaniard, Manolo Orantes, achieved 569.
And his opponent in Saturday’s semifinal will not be another Top 10, as Schwartzman blew a big shot. After giving up the opening set to Carreño, he raised his aim, was more solid and got 5-2 up in the third quarter, in addition to having been more than once two points away from the victory with a 5-3 advantage and serve in favor.
He committed more than one mistake and his rival, another great fighter, remained firm to finally win Carreño, to the joy of the people in Barcelona. The host won five consecutive games and beat the Argentine 6-4, 3-6 and 7-5 in the last of four quarter-final matches.
Fabio Fognini joins a list that nobody wants to integrate: that of active players disqualified in official matches. 🔥❌😬 Review the latest disqualifications one by one.
– ESPN Tennis (@ESPNtenis) April 21, 2021
Earlier there were two other very attractive matches. In the first, the rising Italian Jannick Sinner eliminated the aforementioned Rublev, a great season and recent finalist in Monte-Carlo, 6-2, 7-6 (6). Sinner’s rival, in a duel that promises a lot, will be Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, second-seeded, champion last Sunday in the Principality of Monaco.
Tsitsipas, in another great task, beat the young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime by 6-3 and 6-3. The loser is testing with Toni Nadal, Rafa’s uncle and historical coach, as coach and the Greek once again demonstrated his great present and category, adding eight games without losing a set.