Nadal rocked by Schwartzman before rain intervenes in Paris

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Rafael Nadal’s grip on the French Open title was in danger of being loosened by the unlikely figure of Diego Schwartzman.

The man who has lost just twice in 85 matches at Roland Garros was staring down the barrel of a shock defeat when the rain saved him.

At one point Nadal, the reigning champion and 10 times winner, found himself a set and a break down to 5ft 7in Argentinian Schwartzman.

Diego Schwartzman, pictured, impressed against Rafael Nadal (Thibault Camus/AP)
Diego Schwartzman, pictured, impressed against Rafael Nadal (Thibault Camus/AP)

However, when the players came back on after a delay of almost an hour Nadal immediately broke back to level the second set.

A hold and a break later he was serving to level the match, but at 5-3 and 30-15 the heavens opened again and they were forced off once more, this time for good.

He may have halted the mutiny for now but Nadal was strangely off-colour, unable to dictate the rallies as he usually does on the clay.

Schwartzman, the 11th seed, was certainly playing out of his skin, but even that should have not been enough to trouble a Nadal playing anywhere near his peak.

The Spaniard did have to have his wrist strapped during the first set, during which he had to save four break points in his first service game.

Nadal’s serve, and forehand, had seemingly deserted him as he was broken three times in the first set. He hit straight back on two occasions but Schwartzman held to take it 6-3.

Three consecutive breaks – two for Schwartzman – gave the 25-year-old underdog the advantage in the second set before the first rain break. Nadal had faced 12 break points, losing five of them.

The enforced interlude had clearly benefited Nadal, and assuming he gets the two points he needs to level the match he will start a strong favourite on Thursday when they resume.

But he will know he still has plenty of work to do against a tricky opponent and the first to lay a glove on him in Paris this year.

In the second quarter-final Marin Cilic and Juan Martin Del Potro were locked together at 5-5 in a first-set tie-break.

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