Nadal beats del Porto, advances to final

Hope Soto
June 13, 2018

He'll look for an 11th victory in the final against Dominic Thiem at 9 a.m. Sunday on Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris.

When del Potro avoided a bagel in the sixth game of the second, he raised his arms in celebration. Both men knew that full well.

The forecast says there is a chance of rain. He doesn't cede a thing and he doesn't let up. So there was mild concern when Nadal called for the trainer midway through a game, requiring treatment on what looked like cramp in his hand.

On the thirteenth day of the tournament held in France's capital, Paris, Nadal, world number 1, and No. 5 seeded Argentinean Del Potro met in the semi-finals.

Cecchinato, who had not won a match in five attempts at a Grand Slam before Roland Garros, fought valiantly against the number seven seed but ultimately the Austrian's star quality shone through to reach his first major final. I know I have to play my best tennis to have a chance on Sunday.

"But I have a plan".

Surely, so did del Potro.

Just 45 percent of Thiem's first serves went in, compared to Nadal's 65 percent. "We have to enjoy the moment, and I will try to enjoy it tomorrow", the Argentine added.

"To beat him in five sets on clay is hard".

"I am sure you will win here in the next couple of years", Nadal told Thiem afterward.

Truth is, there were not many the rest of the way, as Nadal finished with 35 winners and just 19 unforced errors.

He appeared to be in near peak form against del Potro - once the all important first set went in his favor.

Del Potro missed six break points in the opener, including three at 4-4.

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Soon enough, he was yelling at himself, a picture of exasperation thanks to Nadal's relentless ball-tracking and shotmaking. "His game is too good for me".

"That's why the guy was dominating clay-court tennis the last 14 years like no one else before and nobody ever will".

Despite concerns over his fitness following a groin injury in Rome last month, del Potro has made the semi-final in Paris, his second after 2009 edition.

Nadal tightened his grip, going to 5-1 on another double break in the third set and sealed the match when Del Potro hit a backhand long.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.But Thiem, 24, was too strong and now believes he has a particularly powerful weapon on his side for the final - breakfast.

Thiem is the only man to defeat 10-time French Open champion Nadal on clay this season.

"If I had won the second set, I think it would have been a totally different third set", he explained.

An 86th win on Sunday will give the 32-year-old Spaniard an 11th French Open title - a joint record for triumphs at a single Grand Slam along with Margaret Court who won 11 Australian Open trophies, albeit not all in the professional era.

Cecchinato's career has been hindered by his links to a match-fixing scandal; he was banned for 18 months in 2016 before having the suspension overturned.

His 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory means he has now reached his 24th Grand Slam final and equals Roger Federer's record for most finals at a single major - Federer's coming at Wimbledon.

"That was not a nice feeling". After a harrowing first two sets, Thiem needed only 21 minutes to win the clinching set.

Rattled by the Italian's revival, Thiem clicked into overdrive - and aided by Cecchinato unforced errors - clinched a crucial break for 6-5 by crunching a forehand victor. Then Thiem got to 10-all with a drop shot of his own.

He hit a forehand long for 0-30 and then hit another forehand into the net to gift Nadal three set points.

Cecchinato had never won a Grand Slam match until this tournament. "After that, my level dropped".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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