June 7, 2018 / 4:13 PM / a month ago

Nadal admits to nerves after Schwartzman scare

PARIS (Reuters) - Being a 10-times champion did not prevent Rafael Nadal from feeling nervous against Argentine Diego Schwartzman in their French Open quarter-final, with the Spaniard admitting that he can at times struggle to cope with his own expectations.

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 7, 2018 Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during his quarter final match against Argentina's Diego Schwartzman REUTERS/Charles Platiau

The world number one was a set and a break down on Wednesday before he regrouped and blazed through the last two sets on Thursday in a last-eight showdown which was played over two days due to rain.

“I am a human person,” the Spaniard, who next faces Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, told reporters following his 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory. “Sometimes you play better, sometimes you are more nervous.”

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 7, 2018 Spain's Rafael Nadal with Argentina's Diego Schwartzman after winning their quarter final match REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

The 11th-seeded Schwartzman appeared to have done his homework well as he dominated the early exchanges to bag the opening set — an achievement in itself as it was the first one Nadal had lost at Roland Garros since 2015.

“The quarter-finals was an important match for me. Was a match that maybe is a key match,” the 16-times Grand Slam champion said.

“Even if it was 6-3 6-4, it was an uncomfortable match for me. I knew it was going to be a tough match and I was a little bit more nervous than usual. That’s why.”

Things improved for Nadal after a first rain interruption on Wednesday. Another downpour halted the match towards the end of the second set and upon resumption on Thursday, the familiar all-conquering and ruthless Nadal was back on show.

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 7, 2018 Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning his quarter final match against Argentina's Diego Schwartzman REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Schwartzman had no chance.

“At the beginning yesterday there were no options to open the court, to win points,” Nadal explained.

“And today I moved forward, and I had a better backhand. I was able to open the court on his forehand. Yesterday I was not able to do so. I was not gaining ground.

“And when I was able to change that, I was able to win the game and the match.”

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar

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