Rafael Nadal banished any thought that his form might be wavering as he dropped just four games in finishing off his rain-delayed French Open quarterfinal against Diego Schwartzman.
The 10-time champion and world No.1 completed a 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory on Thursday, after resuming in the second set.
He will face another Argentine in the semifinals after fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro beat third seed Marin Cilic 7-6(5) 5-7 6-3 7-5.
Nadal had shown rare signs of vulnerability when Schwartzman took a 6-4 3-2 lead the previous evening, ending the Spaniard’s run of 37 consecutive sets at Roland Garros.
“I felt that I was playing under more stress than usual, he was able to take control of the point too many times,” Nadal later admitted.
At a break down in the second set, and requiring both his wrists taped – he would later confirm it was to help contain sweat as opposed to an injury – Nadal appeared to benefit more from the rain arriving.
On the resumption, he clawed his way to within two points of levelling at one set all when another downpour ended play for the day.
“The first rain delay of the match changed a lot because I played more aggressive with higher intensity,” he added.
Nadal carried that momentum into the following day and was a different proposition in Thursday’s warm, sunny conditions, closing out the second set and powering through the third and fourth.
Schwartzman clung on valiantly, the Argentine 11th seed earning eight break points as he gave everything in trying to slow the champion’s progress.
Nadal was not about to be derailed, however, wrapping up the win after a total of three hours and 42 minutes of action.
Over on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Del Potro secured a return to the semifinals nine years after his last appearance at that stage.
The match resumed in the opening set tie-break and Del Potro clinched it before Cilic battled back to a position of real strength.
"Of course the love from you guys, you make me feel so happy. I'm so proud to be here playing in front of you, I feel at home here. You make me feel so happy, so merci beaucoup."@delpotrojuan #RG18 pic.twitter.com/I9pkgt9jlx
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 7, 2018
At 3-1 up in the third and with points for a double break, the Croat let his advantage slip dramatically as Del Potro roared back with five straight games to take the set.
The fourth was a tight affair but again it was the Argentine who delivered when it mattered, breaking serve for the fourth time at 5-5 and serving out the win.
“It’s tough to speak now,” said Del Potro, who missed four French Opens in a row from 2013 through injury.
“It has been a long time. I had three surgeries on my left wrist and I was close to quit the sport, and now I don’t have any words to describe this moment. Its so good for me.”
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