Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

Nadal, Thiem battle for French Open title

France Tennis French Open Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman was beaten by Nadal on Thursday
Cassandra Castillo | 13 June, 2018, 17:18

Their first meeting came four years ago at Roland Garros on the very court they are set to contest the final, with Nadal beating an untested Thiem 6-2 6-2 6-3 in the second round.

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

His flawless sliding and fine single-handed backhand make him a fearsome player on clay and Cecchinato believes he has what it takes to continue his climb up the rankings.

That put Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria who is seeded No. 7, in the semifinals at the French Open for the third consecutive year.

This will be the 10th tour-level encounter between Nadal and Thiem.

While top seed Nadal breezed past Argentine Del Potro 6-4 6-1 6-2 in just over two hours, seventh seed Thiem ended Cechinator's fairytale with a 7-5 7-6 (12-10) 6-1 win.

Nadal is only the second man after Roger Federer to reach 11 finals at the same Grand Slam.

But that was only after Nadal had allowed him just two games in a last-eight mauling in Monte Carlo.

Rafael Nadal admits that his desire to clinch an 11th French Open title on Sunday is fired by his growing realisation that the end of his career may not be too far away. That was followed by a quarterfinal victory over Schwartzman from a set down and an ultimately comfortable 6-4 6-1 6-2 win against del Potro. "For me it's incredible", said Nadal.

Anything can happen in a Grand Slam final.

France Tennis French Open
Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro reacts after booking his place in the semi-finals

"I am sure you will win here in the next couple of years", Nadal told Thiem afterward.

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.

"If you tell me seven, eight years ago that I will be here. having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something nearly impossible", Nadal said.

In the second-set tiebreaker on Friday, Thiem went ahead 6-3 but missed out on three set points there, including a bad volley into the net at 6-4 that left him chewing ruefully on his left index finger. "He beat me in Madrid, he has big power so I have to be at my best and improve", said Nadal.

Thiem weathered three set points for Cecchinato, at 7-6, 9-8 and 10-9.

But Thiem showed resilience in getting two break points on Nadal's serve. "So there is not 10 more chances to keep playing here". Stephens won last year's U.S. Open; Halep is 0-3 in major finals.

Thiem used to hike through the Alps in his homeland as part of his training, but the 24-year-old had an even bigger mountain to climb now.

At least Thiem has in the past found the key to unravelling the Nadal clay court enigma.

The women's doubles final is also Sunday.

But the Spaniard was impressive on Friday, finishing with 35 winners and 19 unforced errors to Del Potro's analysis of 20 and 32."Thiem is an unbelievable player".

More news: Why Meghan Markle stood behind Kate Middleton for her balcony debut

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