Nadal powers past Marterer to notch 900th career win
Paris: Rafael Nadal said he doesn't "feel old", after moving a step closer to an incredible 11th French Open title on Monday by beating German Maximilian Marterer to reach the quarter-finals the day after his 32nd birthday. Rafael Nadal has recorded the 900th singles match win of his career.
The world number one's 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) victory over the world number 70 saw him equal the record of 12 last-eight appearances at Roland Garros, which was set by Novak Djokovic the day before.
Top seed Nadal, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday, is now on his own in third on the all-time list for most match wins at Grand Slam events with 234 victories after passing Jimmy Connors.
"I don't feel old. But I am 32, and I have been here since 2003, so it's a long way, a lot of years," he said.
"I started very young. That's a real thing. But, no, I feel happy to be here. Being honest, I am enjoying the day by day on the tour and I hope to keep doing this for a while." Nadal powered 39 winners past Marterer, who pushed the Spaniard as hard as he could without ever threatening an upset.
He will face Argentinian Diego Schwartzman for a semi-final spot, after the 11th seed staged a thrilling comeback to down sixth seed Kevin Anderson 1-6, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2.
"It's always good to see him in the quarter-final because he's a good friend, a good person. He's a worker, and I'm happy to see him having all this success. Hopefully not too much (though)," smiled Nadal, who had a brief practice session with Schwartzman last week.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion has now won 37 consecutive sets at Roland Garros, just four short of Bjorn Borg's record set between 1979 and 1981. Nadal was caught cold in the opening stages as some big hitting from Marterer brought him the first two games.
But it didn't take Nadal long to figure out his opponent, reeling off four straight games en route to an inevitable one-set lead. The 16-time Grand Slam champion raced through the second set in just 38 minutes, breaking his opponent's serve twice. But Marterer — who was playing in the main draw for the first time — moved into a 3-1 lead early in the third as he threatened to become the first man to take a set off Nadal at Roland Garros since the Spaniard's 2015 quarter-final defeat by Djokovic.
But the reigning champion quickly hit back before securing a tie-break on his second match point when Marterer fired long, celebrating with a trademark fist pump.
Meanwhile, Argentine Diego Schwartzman produced a remarkable fightback from two sets and a break down to beat South African Kevin Anderson 1-6 2-6 7-5 7-6(0) 6-2 and reach the French Open quarter-finals for the first time on Monday.
Having gone two sets up with big hitting from the baseline, towering sixth seed Anderson threw Schwartzman a lifeline while serving for the match at 5-4 and his booming serve faltered again at 5-6 as the Argeentine took the third set.
The 25-year-old Schwartzman, who won the Rio Open claycourt title earlier this year, switched gears in the tiebreak at the end of a tight fourth set to level the contest at two sets apiece as a tiring Anderson failed to earn a point.
With momentum having swung his way, Schwartzman secured the decisive breaks in the final set and sealed a memorable victory over the U.S. Open finalist with an ace after a contest lasting three hours and 51 minutes.
"He was very aggressive. One way or the other he started lining up points and it was different from what I had imagined, because he's more of an aggressive player," Schwartzman said.
"In the third set I tried on a crossover backhand to play better. And from then on he started getting a bit tired and he wasn't as accurate, unlike in the first two sets.
"I tried to take advantage of an opportunity. I was lucky, because I took advantage of two of his mistakes when he was serving for the match."
Schwartzman, who became only the eighth Argentine to reach multiple Grand Slam quarter-finals in the Open Era, next faces top seed Rafa Nadal who beat Maximilian Marterer. He trails Nadal 5-0 in their previous meetings.
"Always I believe I can do (it). If not, I'm not playing tennis," Schwartzman added. "But Rafa here, I know it's his second home, and it's going to be a really tough match. "I need to recover well, because against him I need to run a lot and do my best. I need to be ready for the next match and do my best," he added.