Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Sports | By Brooke Harris

‘A little hope’: Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem in French Open final

‘A little hope’: Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem in French Open final

It will be Nadal's second Argentine opponent in as many rounds after Del Potro defeated Marin Cilic 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 in the other quarter-final to book his place in the last four.

"He's a big favourite against everybody", Thiem said.

"Everybody knows that I was close to quit this sport two years ago, but then I, for one reason, I never give up".

Juan Martin del Potro believes it's virtually impossible to defeat Rafael Nadal on clay and backed the Spaniard to claim an 11th French Open title in Sunday's final against Dominic Thiem.

Cecchinato, who was formerly banned from tennis in 2016 as a result of a match-fixing investigation, had never won a grand slam match going into the 2018 event but dispatched eighth seed David Goffin and former world No.1 Novak Djokovic in a remarkable run.

Here we look at the records broken by the 32-year-old at French Open. "If I want to beat him, I have to play that way like I did in Rome and in Madrid".

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However, his fearless approach was completely ruined by the rain delays and allowed Nadal to regain control.

Nadal broke in the lone game he had an opportunity to wrap up the set. Thiem has 13 career wins over top-10 players, and three of those victories have come this year.

The 11th-seeded Schwartzman appeared to have done his homework well as he dominated the early exchanges to bag the opening set: an achievement in itself as it was the first one Nadal had lost at Roland Garros since 2015.

Of that set, Thiem said: "If I had lost it, it would have been a very close match". "I can say a lot of things, but the easiest answer and the real answer is to play well".

But it took Muguruza quite a while to get going against Halep, who managed to keep sending ball after ball back over the net. "I just enjoy the fact that I am here again".

The Spaniard was a set and a break down on Thursday morning before he regrouped and blazed through the last two sets on Friday morning (AEST) in a last-eight showdown played over two days due to rain.

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Thiem used to hike through the Alps in his homeland as part of his training, but the 24-year-old had an even bigger mountain to climb now. A day later, it was rarely used as effectively.

Nadal had too much class for del Potro on his favoured clay. There were no breaks of serve through the 12 games, with Thiem earning three break points while giving away none.

By the absurd standards Nadal has set here, even facing those break points amount to a lapse, as does the opening set he dropped to the terrier-like Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals. His last few seasons have been marked by inconsistency and injury, and Diego Schwartzman demonstrated that there are weaknesses to be exploited in Nadal's game. In the victory, Nadal won 73 percent of his first serve points and 66 percent of his second serve points. He likes the conditions more here than in Madrid, for sure. The French Open, like all Grand Slam tournaments, is best-of-five for men.

Rafael Nadal thrashed Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets on Friday to storm into his 11th French Open final. Stephens closed in on her second Grand Slam title by beating pal Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday in the first all-American semifinal at the French Open since 2002.

It is the second straight all-American girls' final at Roland Garros, after Whitney Osuigwe beat Claire Liu past year.

There was a sense of inevitability when Del Potro served at 4-5 and Nadal turned the screws to grab two set points at 15-40.

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Afterwards a tearful Del Potro said on courtside: "It's tough to speak now". I had three surgeries on my left wrist. It was Nadal's 60th win in a row on clay.

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