June 18, 2018

Nadal beats del Porto, advances to final

10 June 2018, 01:29 | Joan Schultz

WATCH: Del Potro directs frustration at Paris spectator

Rafael Nadal's French Open set streak ends in quarterfinals

Ten-time champion Rafael Nadal reached his 11th French Open final on Friday when he demolished Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets, setting up a title showdown with Dominic Thiem, the only man to defeat him on clay in the last two years.

He will face Rafael Nadal in the semi-final.

The 10-time Roland Garros champion was second-best in the first set, but the powerful Del Potro was unable to claim a solitary break as he was thrashed 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 on a glorious Friday in Paris.

Patrick Mouratoglou, coach of Serena Williams and commentator for Eurosport, believes Thiem has the game to upset Nadal, but he'll need to execute his game plan perfectly.

Del Potro saved one but a backhand error handed Nadal the set and he never took a backward glance after that.

However, the 25-year-old failed to take the three sets points he fashioned and was brutally punished after going two sets down, with two breaks for Thiem allowing him to secure the third set in just 28 minutes.

The injury-prone Argentine had a discussion with Dr. Bernard Montalvan during the changeover, with Nadal leading 3-2 in the first set. Nadal has won six of those, two in finals in straight sets, and in both of their matches here, in the second round in 2014 and the semi-finals previous year.

"With the years, you learn that things change very quickly", said Nadal when asked about the age gap factor ahead of his 24th slam final.

Both teams are through to the final at Roland Garros for the first time after securing uspet wins on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Del Potro made a strong start despite appearing to damage his hip, but faded on a warm afternoon as the outstanding world No. 1 stayed on course for a 17th major success. 'I can't give him the game.

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The best player can lose his cool on occasion, even if he's known as the "gentle giant". "I was so nervous before the match because I knew it would be a tough match". Yet Nadal and James are tapping into a cycle of near-peerless play that is redefining how we view the greats and what can be accomplished well more than a decade into all-time careers.

In 2011, Thiem beat his esteemed compatriot, 6-2, 6-3, in just over an hour on the indoor hardcourt of Vienna and still had to work hard to handle the heavy left-handed serve of the former world No 1.

'Still, I know how to play against him.

"We'll play Parchis [Spanish board game] and we'll let Rafa win so that he's happy before the final", joked Moya. "And losing against Rafa on his best surface, his best court, I'm quite relaxed about that".

Cecchinato's bid to become the spoiler's spoiler ended, for all intents and purposes, when he was unable to convert any of three set points in an entertaining second-set tiebreaker that was the middle chapter of Thiem's 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1 win.

"Just thinking in a positive way and just thinking that I have to hold". I always hear from players that in a match they will do it differently, but if you don't practice that way, you are not going to do it in the heat of the battle. I have to play my best.

Scalps in Rome and Madrid are impressive but the ultimate test awaits the 24-year-old on the final Sunday of a fascinating two weeks in the French capital.

"I think that was my chance of the match".

"Today, all day, on Philippe Chatrier, the fans said, "Forza, Marco", so this is the best moment for me", he added.

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