No. 1 Djokovic, 13-time French champ Nadal to meet in semis

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Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts as he defeats Italy's Matteo Berrettini in a quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

PARIS – Novak Djokovic wheeled toward his guest box in a nearly empty Court Philippe Chatrier as midnight neared and let out one yell, two yells, three, four.

Once two points from a straight-set victory and seemingly well on his way to a French Open semifinal showdown against Rafael Nadal, Djokovic had to deal with so much that went awry: consecutive unforced errors that gave away a tiebreaker; a 21 1/2-minute delay while spectators left because of a COVID-19 curfew; a face-down tumble that drew blood from his left palm.

Still, the top-seeded Djokovic held on and moved on, pulling out the quarterfinal victory against No. 9 Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 Wednesday night.

“This match had it all: falls, crowd, break. It was a lot of intensity. I just felt under tension the entire time,” Djokovic said. “The reaction (at) the end was just me liberating that tension that was building up for the entire match.”

Now comes a semifinal Friday against a familiar foe in a rematch of last year's Roland Garros final, but a round earlier: Nadal, who is 105-2 in the clay-court tournament.

“We know each other well,” the third-seeded Nadal said. “Everybody knows that in these kind of matches, anything can happen.”

Nadal’s French Open set streak ended earlier Wednesday. His pursuit of a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title — and what would be a 14th in Paris alone — remained very much intact, however.

Nadal shrugged off dropping a set at his favorite event for the first time in two years by whipping violent forehands punctuated with fist pumps and yells of “Vamos!” en route to a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory over 10th-seeded Diego Schwartzman.