PARIS – Defending French Open champion Rafael Nadal looked on the verge of wrapping up a quick win Tuesday to make it to the semifinals for a record-extending 12th time when ominously dark clouds derailed his plans.
Leading 6-1, 6-1, 4-2 against Kei Nishikori on Court Philippe Chatrier, Nadal shook his head in disbelief when tournament organizers took the decision to stop play at the clay-court Grand Slam because a thunderstorm was on its way.
Before that, the closest thing to a hurricane at Roland Garros had been Nadal himself.
In an impressive display of power and consistency, the 17-time Grand Slam champion had methodically picked apart Nishikori with a mix of pinpoint groundstrokes, subtle drop shots and spectacular winners, including an overhead shot with his back to the net that drew loud cheers from the stands.
Meanwhile, former French Open champions Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka were involved in a tight battle on Court Suzanne Lenglen, with Federer leading 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (5), 3-3 when play was stopped.
Wawrinka beat Federer in straight sets in their last Roland Garros meeting at the same stage four years ago. Until last week, that 2015 match was also the last time Federer played in the clay-court Grand Slam tournament, having missed the 2016 edition to rest a sore back and then skipping the clay season altogether the following two years.
In the women's draw, Johanna Konta reached the semifinals for the first time after beating last year's runner-up Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-4.
Konta served six aces, stepped into the court to crush winners off second serves and never gave the seventh-seeded Stephens time to find her rhythm or groove.
"To play one of the best players in the world and then play at the level I did, I feel really proud of myself," Konta told the crowd.
Konta has now reached the semifinals at three of the four major tournaments, but has yet to reach a final.
She will next play either unseeded teen Marketa Vondrousova or No. 31 Petra Martic.
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