June 21, 2018

Thiem ends Cecchinato's run to reach French Open final

13 June 2018, 08:39 | Joan Schultz

Nadal overcomes nerves to meet del Potro in French Open semi-finals

French Open: Ruthless Rafael Nadal punishes Juan Martin del Potro in semi-final

The seventh seed's failure to make another gain proved costly later in the set, however, when unforced errors and a double fault opened the door for Cecchinato to draw level at 4-4.

Del Potro seemed to hurt his left hip during the third game of the match after getting wrong-footed and called the tournament doctor with Nadal leading 3-2.

He appeared to be in near peak form against del Potro - once the all important first set went in his favor. 'I can't give him the game. "So there is not 10 more chances to keep playing here".

And as del Potro found in the semifinals, it often takes two or three shots that would have been winners to pierce Nadal's defence. Injuries have hampered the King of Clay throughout the past year. The Austrian won just one of the first nine points as Nadal immediately broke for 2-0.

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.

The other semifinal will be played between No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem and Italian underdog Marco Cecchinato. He's playing with big confidence.

"I was lucky or - lucky or I don't know what to say for them".

"I know I have to play my best, I have to improve a little bit".

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Beating Nadal on the red dirt is one of the toughest jobs in tennis and a resurgent del Potro will be taking the challenge when the two stars meet in the much-anticipated tie Philippe-Chatrier on Friday.

Nadal is 85-2 for his French Open career, 110-2 in all best-of-fives on clay. Over the past two years, including best-of-three matches, the Spaniard is 49-2 at clay tournaments.

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. "I never dreamed in 2005 when I played my first final here that I would be in another one". I have a plan. He will now be looking to win a record 11th grand slam title of the tournament. Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months in 2016, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality.

World number 72 Cecchinato stunned Roland Garros on Tuesday by following up his surprise wins over top-10 seeds David Goffin and Pablo Carreno Busta with a breathtaking victory against 12-time major champion Djokovic.

"It may sound easy and logical, but I don't want it to be". Both played superbly - and both had chances to end it. Thiem went ahead 6-3, but wasted three set points there, including a bad volley into the net at 6-4 that left him chewing ruefully on his left index finger.

Nadal acknowledged that Thiem has been a "very complex" opponent.

That win, according to three-times former champion Mats Wilander, should be all Thiem is thinking about when he prepares for Sunday's clash.

He led by two sets plus a break early in the third, when the middle finger on his racket-wielding left hand was cramping so badly he couldn't straighten it. "The match changed a lot", he said. "To get to a set apiece would have changed the match".

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