APTOPIX France Tennis French Open

Spain's Rafael Nadal shouts as he plays Argentina's Diego Schwartzman during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Wednesday in Paris. [MICHEL EULER/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS]

PARIS — Rafael Nadal's French Open set streak is over. His pursuit of a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title — including 14 at Roland Garros — remains very much intact.

Nadal shrugged off dropping a set in Paris for the first time in two years and regained control Wednesday, whipping violent forehands punctuated with first pumps and yells of "Vamos!" en route to a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory over 10th-seeded Diego Schwartzman to reach the semifinals at the clay-court major tournament.

After he ceded the second set and trailed 4-3 in the third, Nadal said later matter-of-factly, “That was the moment to make it happen.”

As if wanting something were enough to will it into existence, he won the next nine games. How? Let him tell you.

“Not many mistakes,” Nadal said. “Hitting a lot of winners. Starting to hit the forehand down the line. Playing more angles. Playing longer with my forehand cross. Returning a little bit better. I mean, my serve, I think, started to work better.”

The No. 3 seed Nadal will play in Friday's semifinals against No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a rematch of last year's final and their 58th meeting anywhere. The other men's semifinal will be No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. No. 6 Alexander Zverev.

Nadal, who turned 35 last week, is now 105-2 for his career at Roland Garros.

He is just two wins from eclipsing the men's mark for most total Grand Slam singles championships that he currently shares with Roger Federer.

In addition to his 13 trophies at Roland Garros — four in a row from 2005-08, five in a row from 2010-14 and another four in a row so far since 2017 — the Spanish left-hander won four titles at the U.S. Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open.

Nadal entered his quarterfinal with a 35-set run at Roland Garros that began during the 2019 final. That grew to 36 on Wednesday, before Schwartzman outplayed him for a stretch, surprisingly winning more of their exchanges that lasted at least nine strokes.

“I don’t pretend to come here and not (lose) sets. Is not my mindset to come here and just thinking (losing) a set is going to be a disaster for me. I mean, that’s part of the game,” Nadal said. “The thing that matters is how you recover from a set lost.”

So this is what came next: Nadal held, then broke to go up 5-4, before holding at love to take the third set. He broke again to open the fourth and remove any remaining sense of suspense.

Schwartzman — now 1-11 against Nadal, including a loss in the 2020 French Open semifinals — started muttering to himself and bounced his racket off the clay a moment before getting broken again to trail 3-0 in fourth.

“Well, for anybody, it’s very difficult to play against him. He’s feeling very comfortable on court,” Schwartzman said. “He’s Rafa. and he’s always finding the way.”

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