Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 12 of the 2020 French Open.
Nadal’s Crazy Good Record on Clay
It’s so easy to take Rafael Nadal for granted.
On Tuesday, the great Spaniard won yet another quarterfinal on Court Philippe-Chatrier when he overcame the youngster who represents the future of Italian men’s tennis (i.e. Jannik Sinner) in what was a closer match than the final score of 7-6(4), 6-4 and 6-1 would indicate.
As far as French Open wins go, this was far from the most memorable one for Nadal. It was a straight sets win where he had to navigate a tricky first set against a new opponent before he quickly righted things and more or less coasted—at least in the final set.
As a result of this win, the Spaniard is through to another semifinal where he’ll be matched up against Argentine Diego Schwartzman; in other words, his tear through the lower half of the draw continues. There’s no indication or sign that once the final rolls around on Sunday, there will be anyone but Nadal hoisting the Coupe des Mousquetaires for yet another Roland-Garros title, the lucky unlucky 13th of his career.
If all this happens, and it seems increasingly likely to unfold precisely as such, then the 34-year-old will have played 102 matches in his career at the French Open—and he’ll have won a whopping 100 of them.
This, as the kids would say, is legitimately insane and it’s not lost on the man himself either.
Nadal’s Got Jokes
He’s even got jokes. There’s nothing he can’t do ?@RafaelNadal #RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/Y9E7OcVS4g
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) October 6, 2020
By now, the very last thing we should do is think that this is at all normal. Because it isn’t. It isn’t normal to play 100 matches on the Parisian clay in the first place—which is where he is now after his quarterfinal win—but it’s especially not normal to play 100 matches on the Parisian clay and to have won, as of this writing, 98 of them.
There will never be another Nadal, let’s cherish him while he’s still here and competing at the highest of levels.
As always, we have our predictions for the two singles semifinals played on day 12 below. You can find the full schedule here.
Matches of the Day
Court Philippe Chatrier: Iga Swiatek vs Nadia Podoroska (First match of the day)
This is about as stunning and unexpected of a Grand Slam semifinal as we have witnessed in the recent history, isn’t it? At 19 years old, Polish Iga Swiatek is in the first major semifinal of her very young career at only her seventh Grand Slam event ever—and she’s probably the favourite in this matchup on day 12. Because Nadia Podoroska somehow navigated her way through the qualifying draw before reaching the final four here.
Let’s keep the good times rolling. Swiatek in two sets.
Court Philippe Chatrier: Sofia Kenin  vs Petra Kvitova  (Second match of the day)
As for the second semifinal, it’s a much more classical matchup that pits two former Grand Slam winners. The pair may be at opposite ends of their respective careers but they’re former major winners all the same. It’s going to be a battle, with Kvitova emerging victorious in three sets.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG