Rafael Nadal’s bid to equal Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slams at this year’s French Open remains alive following victory over Jannik Sinner in the tournament’s latest ever finish.
The big-hitting Italian broke Nadal in the opening set and looked to serve out before the Spanish 12-time champion hit back and won the tie-break.
Nadal dominated the rest of the quarter-final and sealed a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 6-1 win at 01:25 local time.
He will now face Diego Schwartzman.
The Argentine defeated Nadal in Rome last month, but the Spaniard has gone on to win the title on every occasion after reaching the last four at Roland Garros.
The late finish was due to Tuesday’s packed schedule on Philippe Chatrier, which included the five-hour epic between Schwartzman and Dominic Thiem.
Nadal thanked the sparse crowd that remained to watch his match and paid tribute to his 19-year-old opponent.
“Sinner is a very young talent with a lot of power and great shots,” he said. “For two sets it was tough and I was lucky to break him back after going 6-5 behind in the opening set.
“The conditions were difficult. In this cold, the speed was not there.
“Now I have two days, or one-and-a-half days, to practise and recover.”
Dominic Thiem knocked out by Diego Schwartzman in five sets
World No 3 Dominic Thiem is out of the French Open after losing an epic five-set battle of attrition against Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals.
The Austrian, who won the US Open last month, was beaten 7-6 (7-1) 5-7 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 after five hours and eight minutes of drama as 13th seed Schwartzman reached his first Grand Slam semi-final.