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Nadal beats del Potro to reach 11th French…
12 June 2018, 10:56 | Charlene Valdez
WATCH: Del Potro directs frustration at Paris spectator
Thiem has been to the semi-finals in Paris three years in a row, but he lost to eventual champions Novak Djokovic in 2016, then Nadal in 2017.
"If I want to beat him", Thiem said, "I have to play that way".
"I am very happy to be in another Roland Garros final, it is the most important tournament of my career". He beat me in Madrid and he has incredible power.
He beat the Spaniard in the Madrid quarter-finals this year having won in the Rome last-eight in 2017.
His flawless sliding and fine single-handed backhand make him a fearsome player on clay and Cecchinato believes he has what it takes to continue his climb up the rankings.
"I can not believe it now", Karin Thiem, a tennis coach, told a group of reporters.
On Sunday, Nadal will face No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem, a 24-year-old Austrian who reached his first Grand Slam final by eliminating unseeded Marco Cecchinato in straight sets. So when I had the chances, I just tried to convert.
"Rafa is playing every point better from the beginning until the last point of the match, and his intensity grows during the match", explained Del Potro. However, after the game, Nadal revealed that he was struggling against Del Potro in the first set. So there was mild concern when Nadal called for the trainer midway through a game, requiring treatment on what looked like cramp in his hand.
There was a sense of inevitability in the air when Del Potro served at 4-5 and sure enough Nadal turned the screws to grab two set points at 15-40.
However, having squandered one set point, he went in for a simple backhand volley victor only to dump it into the net. I had a lot of break points.
"If I'd won the second set I think it is totally different, the third set", he said.
Nadal crushed Del Potro's spirit with the intensity of his tennis in the second set, bounding 5-0 ahead before the Argentine registered a game to lift the spirits of his fans. It is his best result at Roland Garros since 2009 when he also made the semi-finals losing to Roger Federer in five sets.
Nadal, 32, won 6-4 6-1 6-2 to set up a meeting with Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem in Sunday's final.
"He's been a very complex opponent".
Nadal will retain the world number one ranking if he wins - but that will be the last thing on his mind.
For Thiem, however, the challenge will be to go one step further as all his victories so far have been in three setters.
Thiem got off the blocks quick with a break in the very firsts game after Cecchinato fought off with three deuces.
A fourth set point for Thiem was erased with - what else? - a drop shot by Cecchinato.
Thiem battled to a 7-5 7-6 and then walloped a clearly dejected Cecchinato 6-1 in the third to qualify for the final after making the semi-final on three consecutive occasions. But once Thiem got to 10-10 - ironically with a superb drop volley of his own - the clay-court prince was back.
Rattled by the Italian's revival, Thiem clicked into overdrive - and aided by Cecchinato unforced errors - clinched a crucial break for 6-5 by crunching a forehand victor.
"It's his court, he has the keys and he has to take advantage of that", said Moya, referring to Nadal's track record at Philippe Chatrier stadium.
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