Thiem for a change? Or same old Nadal script?

Elena Summers
June 10, 2018

Ruthless Rafael Nadal punished Juan Martin del Potro for missed opportunities as he reached his 11th French Open final with a 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory on Friday.

On Friday, Del Potro was by far the better player in the first set, while in the quarter-finals, Diego Schwartzman won the first set of his clash with Nadal. The second was the No. 6 player in the world, Juan Martin del Potro, because facing Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros is about a hard a task as sport has to offer.

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Across the last 12 months on clay, Nadal has held serve 88.7% to Thiem's 85.7% (3.0% edge) while breaking opponents 50.0% to 30.1% (19.9% edge), and this incredible advantage he has on return was a big factor in me pricing Nadal as a [1.17] favourite to lift the trophy today.

"If I want to beat him, I have to play that way like I did in Rome and in Madrid", said the number eight seed.

"I know I have to give a little more than I have given until now in this tournament".

Meanwhile, Thiem reaches a Grand Slam final for the first time in his career.

Rafael Nadal, the 10-time champion, takes on Dominic Thiem in the French Open final on Sunday.

The 32-year-old Spaniard, with 16 majors to his name, is to play his 24th Grand Slam final at Roland Garros against Dominic Thiem, who is playing his first. I have been on court just couple of minutes ago. But Nadal saved all six and broke in game 10 to take a one-set lead.

During the changeover after the set, a trainer came out to tape both of left-handed Nadal's wrists.

"It was really important for my mind to know I could win against a great opponent".

"It was not a very nice feeling", Thiem said.

World 72 Cecchinato had knocked out three seeded players to reach the semi-finals, including 12-time major victor Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

Notably, Thiem is the only player to have tasted success against Nadal on clay over the last two seasons.

The battle wore on and on, before, on the Austrian's fifth set point, Cecchinato went long to fall two sets behind. This season no other player, not even the undisputed King of Clay, can count as many match wins on the red dirt as Thiem.

"You can win a set, but not a match against Rafa", Del Potro said, keen not to over-egg any hint of weakness in Nadal's game.

"Once he gets ahead in the match, his confidence gets back", said Moya, the 1998 French Open champion.

Cecchinato, who was banned from tennis in 2016 in a match-fixing investigation, had never won a grand slam match going into the 2018 event but dispatched eighth seed David Goffin and former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a string of surprise wins.

Thiem weathered three set points for Cecchinato, at 7-6, 9-8 and 10-9. The most recent meeting was in this years Rome Masters, a match Thiem won in straight sets. Then Thiem got to 10-all with a drop shot of his own.

"That was definitely the key", Cecchinato said.

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