Rafael Nadal returns the shot during his quarterfinal win Wednesday over Diego Schwartzman at the French Open in Paris. Michel Euler/Associated Press

PARIS — Two points from a straight-sets victory, Novak Djokovic seemingly was well on his way to a French Open semifinal showdown against Rafael Nadal when so much went awry Wednesday night.

Consecutive unforced errors by the top-seeded Djokovic helped give away a tiebreaker to barrel-chested Matteo Berrettini. Then there was a 21 1/2-minute delay in the fourth set while the first spectators allowed to attend a night session at Court Philippe Chatrier were cleared out because of a COVID-19 curfew. And a face-first stumble by Djokovic drew blood from his left palm when he braced himself against the court.

Still, Djokovic held on and moved on, pulling out the quarterfinal victory against No. 9 Berrettini, 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5, in a match that ended shortly before midnight with Djokovic yelling toward his entourage.

Now comes a semifinal Friday against a familiar foe – a rematch of last year’s final, but a round earlier, against a 13-time French Open champion who is 105-2 at Roland Garros.

“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 remained very much intact, however.

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

“For anybody, it’s very difficult to play against him. He’s feeling very comfortable on court,” Schwartzman said after falling to 1-11 against Nadal. “He’s Rafa, and he’s always finding the way.”

Nadal reached his 14th semifinal in Paris; Djokovic his 11th. It’s Djokovic’s 40th trip to the final four at any major, Nadal’s 35th. Nadal and Roger Federer share the men’s mark of 20 Grand Slam titles; Djokovic is at 18.

The semifinal will be the superstar duo’s 58th matchup, more than any other two men in the sport’s professional era; Djokovic leads 29-28. But Nadal is ahead 10-6 in Slam meetings, 7-1 at the French Open.

The other men’s semifinal Friday will be No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. No. 6 Alexander Zverev.

There are four first-time Grand Slam semifinalists left in the women’s bracket, something that last happened at the 1978 Australian Open.

On Thursday, Maria Sakkari plays Barbora Krejcikova, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova plays Tamara Zidansek.

In Wednesday’s quarterfinals, Sakkari ended Iga Swiatek’s title defense by beating her 6-4, 6-4, and unseeded Krejcikova stopped the run of 17-year-old Coco Gauff, 7-6 (6), 6-3.

Nadal entered his quarterfinal with a 35-set run at Roland Garros that began during the 2019 final. That grew to 36 on Wednesday, before Schwartzman outplayed him for a stretch, surprisingly winning more of their exchanges that lasted at least nine strokes.

“I don’t pretend to come here and not (lose) sets. Is not my mindset to come here and just thinking (losing) a set is going to be a disaster for me. I mean, that’s part of the game,” Nadal said. “The thing that matters is how you recover from a set lost.”

After losing the third set, Schwartzman – now 1-11 against Nadal, including a loss in the 2020 French Open semifinals – started muttering to himself and bounced his racket off the clay a moment before getting broken again to trail 3-0 in fourth.

“Well, for anybody it’s very difficult to play against him. He’s feeling very comfortable on court,” Schwartzman said. “He’s Rafa. and he’s always finding the way.”

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