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Diego Schwartzman outlasts Dominic Thiem in French Open epic

Diego Schwartzman

PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 06: Diego Schwartzman of Argentina celebrates after winning a point during his Men’s Singles quarterfinals match against Dominic Thiem of Austria on day ten of the 2020 French Open at Roland Garros on October 06, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

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Diego Schwartzman outlasted Dominic Thiem in a five-hour, five-set French Open quarterfinal. Next up: 12-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, whom Schwartzman beat three weeks ago.

Schwartzman, the undersized, 12th-seeded Argentine, dumped Thiem, the 2018 and 2019 French Open runner-up, 7-6 (1), 5-7, 6-7 (8), 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Tuesday.

Schwartzman recovered after being broken while trying to serve out the third and fourth sets to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal. He credited freshness from not dropping a set in his first four matches.

“I was perfect today,” fitness-wise, he said. “I think after two days I’m going to be perfect in semifinal.”

He plays Nadal on Friday. The Spaniard swept 19-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner in a later Tuesday quarterfinal. Novak Djokovic looms in the other half of the draw.

Schwartzman, generously listed at 5 feet, 7 inches, handed Nadal a rare, straight-sets defeat on clay at the Italian Open on Sept. 19. He lost their previous nine meetings, taking just two sets off Nadal, who is three match wins from tying Roger Federer at 20 Grand Slam singles titles.

“I know this week that I can beat him,” Schwartzman said after joking about a lack of confidence due to the 1-9 head-to-head. “Rafa is the legend here, is the owner of this place almost.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Thiem, who won his first major title at the U.S. Open two weeks ago, suffered his earliest Roland Garros exit since 2015. The third-seeded Austrian made the semis in 2016 and 2017 and lost to Nadal in the last two finals.

Thiem repeated since arriving in Paris that exhaustion from his seven-match run in New York, and everything else a major title entails, would catch up with him. He won a three-and-a-half-hour, five-set fourth-round match on Sunday against a French wild card.

“I was over the limit today,” he said Tuesday. “I still could play at quite a high level for more than five hours. But, I mean, [Schwartzman] was keeping it up until the end. He was probably a little bit fresher than me in the fifth set.”

Earlier Tuesday, 131st-ranked Argentina Nadia Podoroska became the first qualifier to reach a women’s major semifinal since Alexandra Stevenson at 1999 Wimbledon. She upset No. 3 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-2, 6-4.

Podoroska next faces 54th-ranked Pole Iga Swiatek, who dispatched 159th-ranked Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-1. Podoroska and Swiatek are ranked lower than any previous French Open women’s finalist (Jelena Ostapenko was 47th in 2017, when she won the title).

Danielle Collins set up an all-American quarterfinal on Wednesday by topping 30th seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Collins, a 2019 Australian Open semifinalist who is ranked 57th, gets No. 4 seed Sofia Kenin for a spot in the final four.

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