Ruthless Rafael Nadal punishes Juan Martin del Potro in semi-final


Free to impose his game against wilting Cecchinato, Thiem ruthlessly closed out the match in straight sets. He looked hesitant and edgy, as if he might not be able to finish what he started.

Predictions: can Thiem beat Nadal? .

He stopped short for a long moment, searching for his words, but then nodded his head with renewed determination and reeled off the rest of the response.

Where do I watch the matches live on television? For me it's incredible. Equipped with booming serves and one of the strongest forehands in tennis, the 29-year-old will be hoping to keep the rallies short and pull off one of the biggest upsets at Roland Garros. Rain meant that the final was completed on Monday which was tough on Djokovic who was a break up in the fourth set when the match was halted for the night.

Caty McNally and Cori Gauff will meet in an all-American girls' final at the French Open after winning their semifinals. There is no difference between practices and matches. I mean, not many players can beat him on clay. "And Nadal has been doing it for years and years and years".

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I seem to have everyone behind me and I'm coming back and fighting for them. I wouldn't change a thing, and we move on to the next one.

It was hard not to feel sympathy for Thiem, playing in his first grand slam final against a man who simply does not lose this particular battle. A victory over Thiem would allow him to equal Margaret Court's career record of 11 singles titles at a single major tournament. He has won every final he has reached, and in those 11 finals he has dropped just six sets. His head-to-head advantage over Thiem only stands at 6-to-3, and considering the Austrian is only 24-years-old, it's no great surprise that Nadal had the better of their early encounters.

Both players contributed to an entertaining start, but Thiem quickly took control, breaking through in the opening game and then comfortably holding easily. Nadal is bidding to become only the second player to win 11 titles at any Grand Slam tournament after Margaret Court, who won the Australian women's singles title 11 times.

"Forget the 10 (French Open titles) and forget what happened past year, Thiem has to remember what happened in Madrid which is a title Nadal wants to win nearly as much as the French", Wilander, Eurosport's chief analyst, told Reuters.

"For sure, I can take some things off that", Thiem said. Both played superbly - and both had chances to end it. Thiem went ahead 6-3, but wasted three set points there, including a bad volley into the net at 6-4 that left him chewing ruefully on his left index finger. "We don't have to forget that, we have to be aware of that, but also not give too much importance to that otherwise it can get in your head and it's not helping".

Argentine giant Del Potro was expected to push Nadal to the limit in Friday's semi-final but slumped to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 defeat with the world number one reeling off 14 of the last 17 games.

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"The three five-setters that Zverev played before reaching the last eight made the young German run out of gas when he went up against Thiem".

"He's a big favorite against anybody", Thiem said of Nadal.

"It's not going to be easy but he's facing Dominic, we know he's the only player that beat him on clay the last couple of years".

Most men who face Nadal have a plan.

Among the more absurd stats in all of sports: Nadal boasts an 85-2 lifetime record at Roland Garros. Both losses came against Thiem.

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