Nadal thumps Del Potro to ease into French Open final against Thiem

Lynette Rowe
June 10, 2018

Only Dominic Thiem stands in the way of Nadal and what seems an inevitable 11th Roland Garros title after a straight-sets pummelling of Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-final.

Rafael Nadal powered his way into the French Open final and then claimed he can still move up another gear.

Nadal dropped a set against the Argentine, the first this tournament, but came back fighting to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in a match that was interrupted by rain and had to be completed a day later.

Young pretender - and perhaps heir to the throne - Dominic Thiem has been dubbed the Prince of Clay and he will get a shot at the undisputed ruler of the Parisian land for more than a decade.

The 10-time champion was in full control as Del Potro wilted under the relentless pressure of his whipping trademark forehand.

Against del Potro, Nadal did not record a single ace and converted only 61 percent of his first serves.

That 61-minute set sucked the life out of the crowd favourite and Thiem pounced, quickly moving to a double break at 5-0 in the third set.

"It is nearly impossible to beat Rafa", said Del Potro, who had his chances in the semi-final, but failed to convert any of his seven break points before his challenge petered out into tired hopelessness.

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

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"He's too strong", Del Potro said. "That gave me the possibility to play much better later on the match".

These two have played nine times and Nadal has won six of those matches.

"If I want to beat him I have to play the way I did in Rome and in Madrid". After a tough first set, Nadal jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second set and rolled, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

Fitness permitting, Nadal is arguably the most in-form player in world tennis at the present moment and his record at Roland Garros is barely believable. The 32-year-old Spaniard is 84-2 for his career at the French Open, winning four consecutive titles from 2005-08, another five consecutive from 2010-14, and No. 10 a year ago. I think also it's a good thing that I faced him already twice here.

She will meet current U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens after the 25-year-old world No. 10 dismissed compatriot Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4, in a repeat of last year's American major final in NY.

The tournament favorite served out his 450th Tour-level match on clay to reach his 24th Grand Slam final, Del Potro drilling a backhand return long to crash out. In the other semi-final, Marco Cecchinato's unusual run in the last two weeks was ended by Dominic Thiem, also in straight sets, although the first two sets were somewhat closer than anything Del Potro could muster. I was playing better at the beginning of the match.

"Unfortunately, I was not able to convert my break points. I'm going to play with my highest passion and love for the game, and for the sport, to try to have success". "I think he showed that at the start of the match Rafa was very nervous and you have to keep his head under the water, and that's what DelPo couldn't do today", said Mouratoglou.

"He's been a very complex opponent, and one of the best players in the world on this surface".

He'll need to be at his absolute best if he's to overcome Nadal on Sunday, and sustaining that level for three or more sets will be hard.

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