(1) Rafa Nadal* 2-0 Pablo Carreño Busta (0): as it happened
Rafa Nadal stands three games from history at Roland Garros, where the Spanish king of clay is now the overwhelming favourite to lift an unprecedented 10th Coupe des Mousquetaires on Sunday.
No player in the open era has won the same Grand Slam to the tune of double figures and should Nadal triumph in Paris he will cement his place as the finest clay courter in the history of the sport having overtaken Guillermo Vilas as the player with the biggest haul of trophies attained on the crushed brick.
Nadal's tough route to glory
To achieve the feat Nadal is likely to have to beat both the world number one, Andy Murray, and number two Novak Djokovic, if the seeds fall where they are projected to, with 2015 champion and world number three Stan Wawrinka also lurking in the other side of the draw. Between them, the current top three have two Roland Garros titles from a combined 33 attempts. Nadal has been beaten only twice at the clay Grand Slam, by Robin Söderling in 2009 and Djokovic in 2015, having withdrawn last year before his third round match with a wrist injury.
Aiming to pen his own name in the history books on Philippe Chatrier today is Pablo Carreño Busta, the great hope for the future of Spanish tennis and the only genuine candidate to fill the void that will be left in Paris when Nadal, David Ferrer, Feliciano López and Fernando Verdasco eventually shake the red stuff from their socks for the final time.
Carreño the pretender to Nadal's throne
Like his older peers in the top 25, Roberto Bautista and Albert Ramos, Carreño flies largely under the radar even at home, such is the national obsession with Nadal. But in time the 25-year-old will assume the throne. Whether at this stage of his career he has enough in his armoury to make a dent in Nadal's title challenge in Paris is a question that will be put to the world number five today. Nadal has yet to drop a set (serve) in Paris and dispatched Bautista 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 after humbling Nikoloz Basilashvili for the loss of a single game en route to the quarters.
Carreño has never been this far in a Grand Slam before but pulled off one of the wins of his career in the previous round by accounting for fifth seed Milos Raonic and reached the semi-finals at Indian Wells earlier this year in his best showing at a Masters 1000 to date.