"If Cristiano Ronaldo's body is 23, mine is 40-something!" - Nadal
After overcoming Schwartzman in the quarters to maintain his push for a 13th French Open title, Rafa Nadal compared his physique to the Real Madrid star.
Rafael Nadal lost his first set at the French Open since 2015 but that blip did not prevent the 10-times champion from marching into the semi-finals with a 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory over Diego Schwartzman in their rain-delayed match on Thursday.
"I'm glad Cristiano is 23"
At the press conference following the game, Nadal was asked what 'biological age' he was at after a study which showed Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was just 23 (the footballer is actually ten years older than that). His response had those gathered smirking:
"Cristiano's body is 23 years old?" he questioned, "Then mine is forty-something.
"I don't give much attention to those studies. I'm not interested in these things, I just play tennis. I don't think you can know exactly how old your body is [in that way]. I'm 32 and I'm the way I am.
"I'm happy and I accept my age."
After discussing his aspirations with an incredible 11th Roland Garros title now in sight, Rafa - a fervent Real Madrid fan - concluded, "I'm glad Cristiano is 23".
Nadal maintains course for number 11
The world number one had looked out of sorts in damp conditions on Wednesday as Schwartzman bombarded him with winners to cause him all sorts of problems, with the Argentine leading by a set and a break when the players were first called off court due to rain.
Upon resumption, the Spaniard gradually improved before rain brought an early end to the day with Nadal on the brink of winning the second set.
It was a very different story when the contest resumed on Thursday in drier conditions as Nadal won 12 of the first 13 points before cruising into the last four.
Del Potro awaits the Spanish great
The 16-time Grand Slam champion will now face another Argentine, fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro, for a place in Sunday's final, after he overcame the Croatian Marin Cilic.