'A little hope': Nadal vs Thiem in French Open final

'A little hope': Nadal vs Thiem in French Open final

'A little hope': Nadal vs Thiem in French Open final

A sumptuous cross-court backhand victor by Nadal handed him a double-break in the fifth game and it wasn't long after before he closed out proceedings in two hours and 14 minutes to take his place in Sunday's showpiece against Thiem, who he enjoys a 6-3 head-to-head record against. "So Sunday is the day to give my best, is the day to increase my level even a little bit more". I hope to be ready to do it.

Argentine Del Potro often had Nadal in trouble in a ferocious first set but paid heavily for failing to convert any of the six break points that came his way at 1-1 and 4-4.

It was swift and brutal.

Nadal is now 10-5 in his career against del Porto.

Del Potro had required treatment on a hip problem suffered early in the first set and he visibly wilted in the second, raising his arms in mock celebration when he won a solitary game while already 5-0 behind.

With his strong clay court play as of late, Nadal is not necessarily walking into this match the clearcut favorite.

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But once a competive first set went the way of the world number one, the plan became damage limitation and Nadal's "undecima" never looked in any doubt.

Against many other opponents - maybe ANY other - Thiem would have made things interesting.

Nadal has never failed to win the title when reaching the last four at Roland Garros, but knows that Del Potro, who he has lost to five times, is a unsafe opponent.

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

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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.

He saved three break points before taking the game and set 6-2.

Increasingly frustrated at Cecchinato's resistance, Thiem lost his composure completely in the second set.

Rafael Nadal has taken the first set of his French Open final against Dominic Thiem.

"The big key was the second set", he said."It was a really close tiebreak and I didn't want that especially after I missed an easy volley at 6/4".

It is the 11th time the 32-year-old Spaniard has reached the French Open last four, becoming only the third man in history to achieve the feat at a Grand Slam tournament, after Jimmy Connors at the US Open and Roger Federer at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

"I was not able to move the hand, the finger", Nadal said.

His Paris heroics have not exactly been the uplifting tale they should have been, though. Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months in 2016, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality. The 25-year-old has refused to answer questions on the matter throughout the fortnight.

Cecchinato had never won a grand slam match until the French Open.

"Today‚ all day‚ on Philippe Chatrier‚ the fans said "Forza‚ Marco"‚ so I think this is the best moment for me‚" said Cecchinato.

"But after the loss, I went down mentally and physically".

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