Rafael Nadal could beat Diego Schwartzman by making two adjustments to his game, Brad Gilbert believes. The Spaniard is currently on course for a stunning 13 French Open title, with the 34-year-old now just two matches away from glory. But he lost to Schwartzman in their last showdown at the Rome Open last month.
Nadal has enjoyed a terrific French Open campaign so far, with the 34-year-old failing to drop a single set.
The Spaniard was too strong for Jannik Sinner in their quarter-final showdown, overcoming the Italian with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-1 win on Tuesday.
Nadal is the undisputed king of Roland Garros but, in Schwartzman, faces a huge fight to make the final.
The Argentine beat Nadal the last time they met at the Rome Open last month and the 28-year-old is out to cause another upset.
Nadal has only ever lost twice in Paris since making his debut in the competition in 2005. He was injured for one of those matches, limping out against Robin Soderling in 2009.
But Gilbert thinks the veteran will make two adjustments to his game in order to secure victory, telling ESPN: “I expect Rafa to have a little more pop on his shots and to make adjustments in his court position.
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“He needs to be more adventurous on his serve and to try to break down Diego’s forehand because that backhand is phenomenal.
“Nadal should beat up on some second serves. If Diego is winning 60 per cent of his second points, Nadal could be in trouble.”
Gilbert also labelled Schwartzman’s style of play as ‘astonishing’, with the Argentine inferior to Nadal when it comes to height.
“Schwartzman doesn’t play like he’s 5-foot-7, the way he takes time away from an opponent,” he said.
“He takes the ball earlier than most, with compact swings, so the ball is on you quickly — even on a slow court. It’s astonishing to watch. It’s beautiful.
“His success just goes to show you could be big or little, but if you get court position and take time away from an opponent you have a lot to work with.”
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Schwartzman has insisted he can beat Nadal again, explaining he’ll be aggressive when he needs to be in order to make Sunday’s showpiece final.
He said: “I’m not sure [if I am confident] because if I see the history, I’m 10-1 down [to Nadal].
“But, yeah, I know this week that I can beat him. That’s important thing.”
He then added: “Rafa is the legend here, is the owner of this place almost.
“I have two days free so I’m not thinking yet about the semi-final.
“I have to do a mix every time I’m on court. Being aggressive when I have the chance, having a good defences when I have to do it.”
Meanwhile, Nadal’s coach Carlos Moya recently expressed a belief the battle with Schwartzman will be a ‘difficult duel’ given their last contest in Italy.
“It will be a very difficult duel as we saw in Rome,” he told Eurosport.
“Diego’s match against Thiem yesterday was incredible and I think even Diego could have won more easily. It is true that he could also lose the match. A totally dramatic and very emotional match.
“The players have two days off to recover, but I always say that a Grand Slam is like a marathon.
“The less hours you are competing the better to face the final sprint.
“Even so, Diego is an incredible player and we don’t think that the physical factor is going to influence too much.”
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