Published: Sat, June 09, 2018
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Nadal overcomes nerves to meet del Potro in French Open semi-finals

Nadal overcomes nerves to meet del Potro in French Open semi-finals

Ruthless Rafael Nadal punished Juan Martin del Potro for missed opportunities as he reached his 11th French Open final with a 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory on Friday (local time). The second set like, the first was dominated by serve until Cilic fired himself up to break at 4-4 - a furious Del Potro throwing his racket at the changeover.

Nadal has been untroubled en route to the semis, apart from a blip in the quarter-finals against Diego Schwartzman, but the towering Del Potro looms large on Court Philippe Chatrier on Friday.

After he held there, that was pretty much that for del Potro. "And in the end, I got it, and now I'm having a great present, looking forward for the future. That's why he's the No 1 and beating all the guys", added Del Potro after his 10th defeat in 15 meetings with the 32-year-old Spaniard.

But Checchinato could not quite keep up with Thiem and his big baseline game.

However, Nadal leads their overall head-to-head 6-3 with all of their encounters coming on clay.

The match had already been stopped for an hour on Wednesday, with Nadal trailing 6-4 2-1, before play resumed at 17:28 BST. The last time Del Potro contended a Grand Slam final, he won it at the 2009 US Open.

This time, Thiem instead faced Cecchinato (cheh-key-NAH'-toe), a 25-year-old from Sicily who never had won a Grand Slam match until this tournament and was the lowest-ranked men's semifinalist at the clay-court major in 19 years. Only one of his wins at Roland Garros this year has been decided via straight sets, but a common theme seems to be that he's got better as matches have got longer.

Despite some spirited resistance, the 11th seed couldn't live with Nadal's new-found intensity and revamped strategy, and the 16-time grand slam champion sealed the victory for the loss of only four games with his fourth match point.

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The helplessness of the victims whom Nadal had vanquished at Roland Garros this year was rendered by Del Potro in the penultimate game of the second set.

Thiem has played with great authority and Wilander thinks he could also worry Nadal in the final, should they meet.

" If I lost that tie-break it would have been a very close match I think and I didn't want that". "Still, I know how to play against him". 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. Nadal has now won 30 of his last 35 sets played on clay and has lost just one set in this tournament.

On Sunday, he will face Thiem, who is playing in his first Slam final compared to Nadal's 24th appearance.

"Sometimes you play better, sometimes you are more nervous".

At long last, Thiem converted his fifth set point when Cecchinato sent a forehand long. Then Thiem got to 10-all with a drop shot of his own.

Any discussion about Cecchinato's match-fixing scandal should start with an acknolwedgement of his ultimate acquittal, but the circumstantial evidence certianly isn't particularly favorable (read this thread for details).

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