Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

Nadal beats del Porto, advances to final

Nadal beats del Porto, advances to final

Paris: 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.

However, Nadal has won both their clashes at Roland Garros - in 2014 and in last year's semi-finals by a comfortable 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 margin.

Nadal‚ a 16-time Grand Slam champion‚ claimed his 85th win in Paris against just two losses after weathering a big-hitting opening from 2009 US Open victor Del Potro to win 6-4‚ 6-1‚ 6-2.

Thiem, who ended the Cinderella stint of Italy's Marco Cecchinato 7-5 7-6 (12-10) 6-1, is one of only three men to topple Nadal at least three times on the "terre battue".

Cecchinato, who up until this year's Roland Garros never got past the first round of a Grand Slam event, did not look the same in the third set, as he hit just one victor, committing eight unforced errors.

The 24-year-old Thiem was the last player to get the better of Nadal, too, last month at the Madrid Open.

And, after his unexpected run to the French Open semi-finals, the Italian is determined to prove that he is no one-hit wonder. "I'm so happy to be in the final again", said Nadal afterward.

Yet despite lagging behind on the size of its winner's paycheque, the French Open is more generous overall than both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

He is the only man to beat the world number one on clay in the last two years - in Madrid this spring and in Rome last year.

Both players contributed to an entertaining start, but Thiem quickly took control, breaking through in the opening game and then comfortably holding easily. After breaking Nadal's serve to take the ninth game, Schwartzman hit a forehand victor at 40-30 to take the first set 6-4. "I was 11 years old, watching in the TV and honestly never expected that one day I'd play the finals here".

Thiem is the only player to beat Nadal on red clay over the past two seasons.

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"I have done a lot of things well in the clay court season, but I believe I can be ready for the final".

The forecast says there is a chance of rain.

"I need to regenerate and have a good breakfast to keep up my good level".

However, he quickly recovered and looked to have the ascendancy, but the Argentine let six break-point chances slip and Nadal pounced with a solitary break in the 10th game which was enough to allow him to seal the set after 54 minutes of high-octane action.

Anything can happen in a Grand Slam final.

"He was a little unfortunate", said Nadal who reeled off 14 of the last 17 games, having seen Del Potro fail to convert any of his seven break points.

"He's a big favorite against everybody", Thiem said.

"If lost that tiebreak it would have been a very close match I think and I didn't want that".

In Madrid, Thiem said the key was to be positive against Nadal.

Del Potro will be his opponent on Friday after eliminating No. 3 seed Marin Cilic 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 to make into the semifinals for the first time since 2009. "I am doing well", he said after edging out third seed Cilic 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.

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