Nadal, Thiem meet in final at Roland Garros

Aubrey Yates
June 10, 2018

His semi-final win over Juan Martin del Potro meant Nadal equalled great rival Roger Federer in reaching 11 finals at a single grand slam, the Swiss having won eight Wimbledon titles and been runner-up three times.

Cecchinato's bid to become the spoiler's spoiler ended, for all intents and purposes, when he was unable to convert any of three set points in an entertaining second-set tiebreaker that was the middle chapter of Thiem's 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1 win.

After dropping the first two sets he played in the opening round, Cecchinato came back to win that match in five sets, then proceeded to string together upsets.

Rafael Nadal will be looking to avoid another slow start when he takes on Dominic Thiem in the Roland Garros final on Sunday, with the Spaniard's coach Carlos Moya assuring that they expect a tougher version of the opponent they faced in last year's semi-finals here in Paris. For me it's incredible.

So what will he need to do to counter the credible threat of Thiem, the only man to beat him on clay this year, on Sunday?

"I have a very hard match against a player that is playing great", Nadal said.

Nadal will face Thiem in Sunday's final, which is Nadal's 11th at Roland Garros and Thiem's first in any major.

Del Potro, whose height makes him less vulnerable against Nadal's top spin, should have gone for the jugular to disrupt Nadal's well-oiled routine on Court Philippe Chatrier, said Wilander.

Nadal emerged victorious in straight sets, including a memorable second in which he dropped just the one game.

World number one Nadal went into Friday's clash with a 9-5 career record against Del Potro, including all three meetings on clay.

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"For sure", said Thiem's coach, Gunter Bresnik, "this gives you a little hope".

Nadal, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, claimed his 85th win in Paris against just two losses after weathering a big-hitting opening set from 2009 US Open victor Del Potro to win 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

The 24-year-old Austrian, widely considered the second-best player on clay right now, has a decent record against Nadal and, for the second year in a row, he is the only player to have beaten the Spaniard on clay coming into Roland Garros, after snapping his run of 50 sets in a row when they met in the quarter-finals in Madrid last month.

"To beat Nadal in Paris, on the center court in the finals, I think this is, it's not impossible, but it's maybe one of the biggest (challenges) you can have in tennis". "Although he can lose matches, but the way he plays suits clay courts very well". The win takes him to his 11th French Open final.

Nadal is 56-8 in final appearances on clay in her career and has won nine of his last 10 final appearances overall.

Cecchinato, who was suspended for match-fixing in 2016 before being cleared on a technicality, proved to be no pushover even though he had never won a match at a major before this year's French Open.

Thiem then held his serve at love for a 2-0 lead. Thiem has an impressive range of shots, including a one-handed backhand he leans on heavily, but he lacks the power and ball-striking efficiency to earn the crucial breaks.

At long last, Thiem converted his fifth set point when Cecchinato sent a forehand long.

Del Potro had required the doctor early in the first set after appearing to jar his ankle in the red clay. 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.

"We know Thiem can beat him", Cash said.

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