Ruthless Nadal crushes Del Potro to reach final

Juan Martin del Potro serves against Marin Cilic

Juan Martin del Potro serves against Marin Cilic Credit AFP

Plenty have gone in with sound tactical plans against the 16-times Grand Slam champion in Paris but when the forehand bombardment begins, the best-laid plans usually fall apart as was the case in Friday's semi-final when Nadal thrashed Juan Martin del Potro who many thought posed a credible threat.

I never dreamed in 2005 when I played my first final here that I would be in another one."Thiem is the only man to beat Nadal on clay in the last two seasons - in Madrid this year and Rome in 2017".

The fifth seed, playing in his first Roland Garros semi-final in nine years, had three break points in the third game and three more in the ninth.However, the 29-year-old was unable to capitalise and Nadal made him pay in the 10th game when he claimed the opener off a netted backhand.

"It's always a pleasure playing him in a Grand Slam".

The final battle between No. 7 seed Thiem and Nadal will take place on Sunday, June 10th.

Thiem's fighting spirit was evident in abundance - he continued to put pressure on Nadal through his return game, while consistently scrapping to stave off perilous positions on his own serve - but ultimately the Spaniard's quality and, often, his sheer force of will, won the day.

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.

"Four years ago, I didn't know if I would be back in a final", Nadal told reporters.

"True, I understand that everybody here, you have to write things", he said.

Rafael Nadal held serve in the opening game against Juan Martin del Potro in their French Open semifinal.

The first Austrian to reach a grand slam final since Thomas Muster triumphed here in 1995, Thiem struggled to fend off the world No.72 before easing to a 7-5 7-6 (12-10) 6-1 success.

The victor of 10 French, three US Open, two Wimbledon and one Australian Open titles has won 87 of his 89 matches at the French.

Thiem has been to the semifinals in Paris three years in a row.

Nadal won the first set 6-4. He took the biggest of big cuts on groundstrokes, his feet leaving the ground as he threw his whole body into them, as if the very outcome - not of any individual point, but the whole shebang - depended on the strength of that one whip of his white racket. On the first date, Thiem defeated Nadal 6-4, 6-3.

The Czech pair beat second-seeded Andrea Sestini Hlavackova and Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-2.

By then, Nadal was finding his spots. In the fourth game Friday, del Potro clutched at his left hip after being wrong-footed by one shot from Nadal and was visited by a doctor at the next changeover, but said afterward it was not a big deal.

Nadal is looking as comfortable as ever on the Philippe Chatrier court where has previously won the title 10 times.

The No. 6-seeded pairing from the Czech Republic beat Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya of Japan 6-3, 6-3 on Sunday.

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic have won the French Open for their first Grand Slam title in women's doubles. That would move him to within three of the all-time mark of 20 held by Roger Federer.

"That", del Potro would say later, "was my chance".

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