PARIS, France– Rafael Nadal reached his 13th Roland Garros semi-final early Wednesday with a straight sets win over Italian teenager Jannik Sinner but claimed it was “dangerous” to finish at 01:30 in the morning when the temperature had plummeted to 12 degrees (53F).
Nadal, the 12-time champion, defeated 19-year-old Sinner 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-1 to clinch a 98th victory in his 100th match at the French Open.
He will next face Diego Schwartzman, the diminutive Argentine over whom he holds a 9-1 career advantage, as he moves closer to equalling Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20 majors.
However, Nadal, more accustomed to the bright sunshine of Mallorca than the autumn chill of a French Open pushed back four months due to the coronavirus pandemic, was unhappy with organisers who scheduled five matches on the main Court Philippe Chatrier.
“I know footballers play under these conditions, but they are all the time moving,” said Nadal after the latest ever finishing match at the tournament.
“We stop, we come back, we stop on the changeovers. I think this is a little bit dangerous for the body with these very heavy conditions.”
Nadal and Sinner only got on court at 10:30pm after Schwartzman and Thiem had taken five hours to decide their quarter-final.
They also had to wait for another women’s last-eight tie to be completed after two others had kicked off the programme.
The sparse and shivering crowd that greeted them wore thick coats, scarves and hats.
“I don’t know why they put five matches on Chatrier. It’s a risk,” added 34-year-old Nadal who finished his news conference at 02:10.
Nadal will be playing in a 34th semi-final at the majors.
Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin is well positioned for a run at a second Grand Slam title this year as the highest seed left in the tournament going into Wednesday’s quarter-final with fellow American Danielle Collins.
However, the feisty Collins cannot be discounted in an unpredictable women’s tournament where two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova takes on first-time Slam quarter-finalist Laura Siegemund.