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Nadal-del Potro, Thiem-Cecchinato in French Open semifinals

10 June, 2018, 03:12 | Author: Carla Brady
  • Rafael Nadal's French Open set streak ends in quarterfinals

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.

Brandon: Thiem has looked invincible throughout Roland Garros 2018 and looks likely to reach his first Grand Slam final as he takes on Cecchinato in the semis.

Spaniard Nadal eventually claimed the set with a late break of his own before going on to dominate the rest of the contest, his 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory setting up a showdown with Dominic Thiem for the title on Sunday.

Thiem, who beat Nadal in three sets in May, is ranked No. 8 in the world and will be playing in his first grand slam final. For me it's incredible. I know I have to play at my best.

"To beat him on clay, I would say the only chance for any player now is to be really aggressive".

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

"It is nearly impossible to beat Rafa", said Del Potro who had his chances but failed to convert any of his seven break points before his challenge petered out into tired hopelessness.

He did not look unduly affected though and his heavy groundstrokes took a toll on Nadal, who rescued three more break points in the ninth game, one with a sublime drop shot.

Del Potro saved two set points to avoid a bagel, but a rampant Nadal charged in at every opportunity and served out the set in commanding fashion.

Surely, so did del Potro.




Now only Dominic Thiem stands in the way of Nadal and what seems an inevitable 11th Roland Garros title.

Being that far back, it's almost impossible for Nadal to consistently return the ball deep into his opponent's court, but that hasn't affected him the way traditional tennis X's and O's would suggest.

Thiem defeated Cecchinato 7-5, 7-6 (12-10), 6-1 to reach his first French Open final.

As for Thiem, the 24-year-old is in his first Grand Slam final.

Cecchinato, the world number 72, played fearlessly and used his whole arsenal of claycourt weapons, but he came up short against the only player to beat Nadal on his favourite surface this season. "If I lost that tiebreak it would have been a very close match and I didn't want that".

Nadal won the French Open on his debut as a 19-year-old and came into this year's event with a 79-2 win-loss record at Roland Garros.

There was cause for concern, also, when Nadal quit with a leg injury in the fifth set of his quarter-final against Marin Cilic at the Australian Open this year, heightened when he then withdrew from hard-court tournaments in Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami - but he has blossomed on the red dirt of Europe. Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months in 2016, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality.

"He's improving his backhand a lot".

Otherwise, he stayed steady in a 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 3 Marin Cilic in a matchup between two past U.S. Open champions. He then held serve to bag the first set. He'll be fully aware of the threat Thiem poses but that should only leave him sharper from the off.

But the Austrian got nervous and wasted several set points, one of them when he shanked a routine volley at 6-4.

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