Monday, 22 October, 2018

Muguruza overwhelms Sharapova 6-2, 6-1 at French

Rafa Nadal Rafa Nadal. AFP
Cassandra Castillo | 12 June, 2018, 04:50

Friday's first semi-final has 72nd-ranked Italian Marco Cecchinato up against Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem, the only player to beat Nadal on clay this year and who is bidding to reach his first Grand Slam final after consecutive semis in Paris.

Only two players have managed to beat Nadal at the French Open since he first bounded into Roland Garros in 2005 armed with a bulging left bicep, pirate trousers and a pulverising brand of claycourt tennis the like of which had not been seen before.

Thiem is not only trying to overcome Nadal's massive psychological and experiential edge in his first-ever Grand Slam event final, but attempting to join an elite club of men who have elbowed their way into the Big Four's monopoly on major titles over the last 10 years.

I won't be going in again and backing Thiem in the final, but I won't be trading out of my pre-tournament bet either. For me it's incredible.

He beat the Spaniard in the Madrid quarter-finals this year having won in the Rome last-eight in 2017.

Croatian Cilic played an terrible game when serving for the set, making four unforced errors, but he was gifted another chance to serve for the set after breaking Del Potro again and at the second time of asking he levelled the match. I believe I can be ready for that final.

Thiem will be keen to emulate Thomas Muster, the only Austrian man to reach, and win, the final at the French Open, back in 1995.

Dominic Thiem finally got to face someone other than Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in the French Open semifinals, and he took full advantage. "It was nearly impossible to beat him", del Potro said. Given the wet forecast and the fact Thiem has beaten Nadal on clay each of the last three seasons, I'm going for a huge upset.

"The only way to beat Rafa on clay is to take risks.to over-achieve you have to over-play and risk more than you feel comfortable doing", Wilander said.

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"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.

Relentless Nadal broke to love at the start of the third, and as he moved on to match point an exhausted Del Potro paused for breath, bent double, as if he had been punched in the stomach.

"It may sound easy and logical, but I don't want it to be". I'm not trying to break a record. That's why he's the No. 1 and beating all the guys.

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. Best of five is also a different story.

Nadal and Thiem will clash at Roland Garros in Sunday night's final in the battle between ruling monarch and heir apparent.

"He's been a very complex opponent".

"Even if it was 6-3 6-4, it was an uncomfortable match for me", Nadal said. Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months in 2016, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality.

Yesh Ginsburg, Last Word on Tennis: "Nadal has looked vulnerable at times this tournament, but Thiem just plays way too far behind the baseline to be able to challenge Nadal over five sets".

"It's a very nice feeling to come through that and make the final here for the first time". 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. Then Thiem got to 10-all with a drop shot of his own.

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