Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro
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WATCH LIVE: French Open men’s semifinals on NBC Sports, streaming

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Rafael Nadal is two wins from his 11th French Open title, but his semifinal opponent knows what it’s like to topple the great Spaniard on sport’s biggest stage.

Argentine Juan Martin del Potro will take a swing at becoming the first man to beat Nadal in the final four of Roland Garros. That’s right, Nadal is 20-0 in his career in French Open semifinals and finals.

NBC Sports coverage of the men’s semifinals starts at 11 a.m. across all time zones on NBC and 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT on NBCSN.

The Nadal-del Potro winner gets Austrian Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final. The No. 7 seed Thiem, who handed Nadal his last two losses on clay (and is 3-5 vs. Nadal on the surface since the start of 2016), beat 72nd-ranked Italian Marco Cecchinato 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1 in Friday’s early semifinal.

WATCH LIVE: French Open men’s semifinals — STREAM LINK

Two of del Potro’s biggest career wins came against Nadal in semifinals — en route to his only Grand Slam title at the 2009 U.S. Open (dominating 6-2, 6-2, 6-2) and at the Rio Olympics (5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (5).

But none of del Potro’s five wins in 14 matches against Nadal have come on clay. Their only meeting on the surface came at the 2007 French Open, when Nadal swept 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 before del Potro’s breakthrough two years later.

Ted Robinson handles play-by-play for NBC’s coverage, joined by analysts John McEnroe and Mary Carillo. This is NBC’s 36th straight year broadcasting the French Open.

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FRENCH OPEN: TV/Stream Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw (PDF) | Women’s Draw

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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