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Rain halts play at French Open after Nadal drops first set since 2015

Pierre René-Worms, FRANCE 24 | Rafael Nadal has lost his first set in three years on the red clay of Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal dropped his first set at the French Open since 2015 before rain halted his quarter-final against Diego Schwartzman on Wednesday, while Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza booked a place in the women’s semi-finals.

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Nadal, the hot favourite to win a record 11th title on the Paris clay, was locked in a tight quarter-final tussle with Argentinian Diego Schwartzman when rain ended play at Roland Garros.

The world number one dropped his first set in three years at the French Open, and when bad weather first interrupted the match he was in serious trouble with Schwartzman up a break in the second.

The players briefly returned to the court, giving the 32-year-old Spaniard enough time to reel off three straight games before the rain returned for a second and final time.

Pierre René-Worms, FRANCE 24 | At 5' 7" (170 cm), Diego Schwartzman is the shortest Grand Slam quarter-finalist since 1994.

The match will resume at midday on Thursday with Schwartzman leading 6-4, 3-5 (15-30). The winner will play either third seed Marin Cilic or Schwartzman's compatriot Juan Martin del Potro, with the two level at 6-6 (5/5) in a first-set tie-break.

Nadal had won 37 consecutive sets at Roland Garros since his 2015 quarter-final defeat by Novak Djokovic, but dropped serve three times to the enterprising Schwartzman in a thrilling opener.

The Spaniard looked to be on the ropes again in the second set until the weather came to his rescue just as did last month at the Rome Masters when a rain delay changed the course of his final against Alexander Zverev.

Halep fights back

In the women’s draw, world number one Simona Halep fought back from a set down to defeat 12th-seeded Kerber 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2 and reach the French Open semis for the third time.

The Romanian, whose mental strength has often been questioned, showed solid nerves to turn things around after a terrible start to her quarter-final, eventually prevailing in 2 hours and 14 minutes.

“My head won it," Halep later told reporters.

The top seed trailed 4-0 in the opening set but fought back to force a tiebreaker, only to drop the set after briefly losing her focus and surrendering five consecutive points. She broke her opponent’s serve twice in the second set after a change of tactics, coming to the net more often to finish points in the deciding set.

Halep is still chasing her first Grand Slam title after several near-misses. She led Jelena Ostapenko by a set and 3-0 in last year's final at Roland Garros, but then fell apart and eventually lost to the unseeded Latvian in her second French Open final.

Her next opponent will be third-seeded Garbine Muguruza, who thrashed Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-1 in a matchup of past Roland Garros champions.

The Spaniard, who had lost all three previous meetings against Sharapova, is yet to drop a set at this year’s tournament. But she said Halep remained the favourite to reach the final, adding of her next opponent: “She loves clay. She loves Roland Garros. She’s shown it.”

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP)

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