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    SF Preview: Rafael Nadal Searching for Extra Historical past Towards No. 1-Chasing Alexander Zverev | ATP Tour

    Friday is males’s semi-finals day at Roland Garros, with Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev set to open play on Courtroom Philippe Chatrier forward of a conflict between Casper Ruud and Marin Cilic.

    Taking part in on his thirty sixth birthday, Nadal seems to take the following step in the direction of a record-extending 14th Roland Garros title and twenty second Grand Slam trophy. He’s bidding to comb the Australian Open and Roland Garros titles in the identical 12 months for the primary time. If he succeeds, he’ll change into the oldest champion within the historical past of the clay-court Grand Slam.

    There’s so much on the road for the opposite semi-finalists as nicely. Zverev can rise to No. 2 within the Pepperstone ATP Stay Rankings with a win over the Spaniard, and would set himself as much as change into World No. 1 for the primary time ought to he carry the Coupe des Mousquetaires on Sunday.

    Ruud, taking part in in his first Grand Slam semi-final, can rise to No. 6 within the Pepperstone ATP Stay Rankings with a win over Cilic, who’s looking for to change into the nineteenth participant in historical past to succeed in the ultimate of all 4 majors.

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    [3] Alexander Zverev (GER) vs. [5] Rafael Nadal (ESP)

    Nadal booked his tenth ATP Head2Head assembly with Zverev by successful the match that many had circled in the beginning of Roland Garros. He was emotional after his quarter-final victory over Novak Djokovic, however started looking forward to the semi-final even within the rapid afterglow of that Tuesday evening triumph.

    Zverev and Nadal’s second Grand Slam assembly comes within the wake of dramatic four-set wins for each gamers. Zverev fended off a robust Carlos Alcaraz comeback to succeed in the semi-finals in Paris for a second-straight 12 months, whereas 13-time champion Nadal improved to 8-2 on the clay-court Grand Slam in opposition to World No. 1 Djokovic.

    The pair’s earlier encounter at a significant was a five-set thriller on the 2017 Australian Open, the place Nadal took the ultimate two units to clinch a third-round comeback victory. That win contributes to the Spaniard’s 6-3 ATP Head2Head collection lead over Zverev, with Nadal main 4-1 in conferences on clay. But the fifth seed, who holds a 110-3 match document at Roland Garros, is not going to be taking something without any consideration when he takes to court docket on Friday.

    “If I’m not taking part in good or if I’m shedding in that semi-finals match, [it is] not going to be as a result of I am not going to be focussed,” stated Nadal after ousting Djokovic. “I’ve expertise on that. I’m not the type of man and participant that emotionally goes excessive and low. I’m very steady, I feel, emotionally.

    Regardless of arriving in Paris with lingering doubts over a persistent foot harm that hampered him on the ATP Masters 1000 occasion in Rome, Nadal has regarded in superb type within the French capital. The Spaniard eased previous Jordan Thompson, Corentin Moutet and Botic van de Zandschulp earlier than coming by way of a five-setter with Felix Auger-Aliassime and downing Djokovic to e book his spot within the final 4.

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    For third seed Zverev, the quarter-final win over Carlos Alcaraz represented one thing of a breakthrough. The German served with confidence and struck the ball cleanly all through to clinch a maiden overcome a Prime 10 opponent at a Grand Slam, and the 19-time tour-level titlist hopes the expertise may also help him recover from the road on Friday in opposition to Nadal.

    “Sure, I’ve not crushed them in majors, however I really feel like I used to be very shut,” stated Zverev when discussing the prospect of going through Nadal or Djokovic previous to their epic quarter-final conflict. “I really feel like I’ve had very troublesome and hard matches in opposition to them… However there’s a massive distinction between having a troublesome match and beating them.

    “Hopefully I can handle and take this win at the moment and put it on the court docket on Friday.”

    The German’s Roland Garros marketing campaign was virtually over within the second spherical when he saved a match level earlier than edging Sebastian Baez over 5 units. Zverev handled Sebastian Ofner, Brandon Nakashima and Bernabe Zapata Miralles in a extra routine vogue, however is unlikely to have the ability to afford any lapses if he desires to change into simply the fourth participant to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros.

    Australian Open champion Nadal is chasing a second Grand Slam and fourth title general in 2022, whereas Zverev is but to carry a trophy this 12 months. But the World No. 3 has loved a strong European clay season. He reached the semi-finals in Monte Carlo and Rome both facet of a run to the championship match in Madrid, and the five-time ATP Masters 1000 champion believes he is able to go all the way in which at a Grand Slam.

    “On the finish of the day, I am not 20 or 21 years outdated anymore,” stated Zverev after his quarter-final win. “I am 25. I’m on the stage the place I need to win, I am on the stage the place I am speculated to win, as nicely.”

    Whereas he’s but to go all the way in which on the Grand Slam stage, the German has completed loads of successful in his profession so far. He leads the ATP Tour in match victories since 2017, the 12 months he turned 20.

    Participant 
    ATP Tour Wins (2017-22)

    Zverev
    277

    Djokovic
    254

    Nadal
    250

    Medvedev
    236

    Tsitsipas
    222

    [7] Casper Ruud (NOR) vs. [20] Marin Cilic (CRO)

    Like Nadal, Cilic will play the position of veteran on this semi-final. It is a place he has excelled in to succeed in the semi-finals, downing Daniil Medvedev, 26, and Andrey Rublev, 24, within the earlier two rounds. 

    Whereas the 33-year-old plans to proceed for “at the very least three, 4 years” on the Tour, this might be his finest alternative to win a second Grand Slam title to go together with his 2014 US Open triumph. The Croatian is taking part in in his sixth Grand Slam semi — and first since he reached the 2018 Australian Open remaining — whereas Ruud had not reached the quarter-finals of a Slam till this week. 

    However Cilic is 0-2 in his ATP Head2Head collection in opposition to the Norwegian, with Ruud scoring wins on the ATP Masters 1000s in Rome (2019) and Montreal (2020).

    “I’d say he is the most effective guys on the Tour, particularly on clay,” Cilic stated of the 23-year-old, earlier than their matchup was confirmed. “On clay courts he is having an unimaginable 12 months, received so many titles on clay. Positively having fun with to play and feels unbelievable on clay. It may be completely a troublesome match if he goes by way of.

    “For me, I attempt to concentrate on myself. [I have] clearly an enormous recreation, massive serve, and I’ve to do my issues nicely so as to play in opposition to these high guys one of the best I can.”

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    Ruud has rounded into type brilliantly in latest weeks following a 4-4 begin to the European clay swing. In Could, he reached the Rome semi-finals (l. to Djokovic) and received the Geneva title earlier than Roland Garros. He takes a nine-match successful streak into the semi-finals.

    The Norwegian has had prolific success on clay in recent times. From 2020-22, he leads the Tour in match wins (65), titles (7) and finals (8) on the floor.

    Most Clay Wins (2020-22) 
    Most Clay Titles (2020-22)

    Ruud – 65
    Ruud – 7

    Tsitsipas – 51
    Alcaraz/Djokovic – 4

    Schwartzman – 47
    Garin/Nadal/Tsitsipas – 3

    Djokovic – 43
     

    Ruud turned the primary Norwegian man to succeed in a Grand Slam quarter-final when he beat twelfth seed Hubert Hurkacz in 4 units within the fourth spherical. He superior to the semis with a four-set win over #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune within the first all-Scandinavian Roland Garros quarter-final.

    “These are the matches you dream about taking part in and hopefully in fact even the ultimate, if it is potential,” Ruud stated after his newest victory. “I’ve to be actually focussed and produce my ‘A’ recreation within the semi-final as a result of Marin has performed nice all week and it is going to be one other powerful match.”

    Whereas Cilic performed the longer quarter-final — battling Rublev for 4 hours and 10 minutes in a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 3-7, 7-6(10-2) epic — Ruud didn’t put Rune away till roughly 12:45 a.m. within the wee hours of Wednesday morning. After that three-hour-and-15-minute contest, he has lower than 48 hours to arrange to the largest match of his younger profession. 

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