Rafael Nadal reaches 11th French Open final, will face Dominic Thiem

Lynette Rowe
June 13, 2018

Rafael Nadal admits that his desire to clinch an 11th French Open title on Sunday is fired by his growing realisation that the end of his career may not be too far away.

"Because if you stay behind the baseline against Dominic, he can take advantage of it", Toni Nadal said. Del Potro had forced six break points during the first set but the Spaniard fended each one off.

The Austrian was in control of his semi-final against the world number 72, holding three set points in a tie-break for a 2-0 lead.

Cecchinato had never won a Grand Slam match before this year's Roland Garros but made the semis with a string of stunning wins.He put out seeded players Pablo Carreno Busta and David Goffin before the seismic shock of knocking out 2016 champion Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

"In every game that I served, I had problems".

The Czech pair beat second-seeded Andrea Sestini Hlavackova and Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-2.

And the first set was indeed tight, even with del Potro calling for the trainer at 2-3.

In his quest for an eleventh title at Roland Garros, the king of clay will face Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina while Marco Cechinnato of Italy will slug it out with Austria's Dominic Thiem.

"If I'd won the second set I think it is totally different, the third set", he said.

Nadal is now just the second man to reach 11 finals at the same Slam‚ equalling Roger Federer's mark at Wimbledon.

One big difference in this meeting is that those two matches that went Thiem's way were best-of-three-set events.

"It was a good second and third set for me, of course, and a good hold in the first", Nadal said afterward.

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In his on-court speech after Nadal's 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory, the 24-year-old Thiem said: "I still remember when you won here the first time, 2005".

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

Rafael Nadal held serve in the opening game against Juan Martin del Potro in their French Open semifinal.

It was a first Grand Slam final for the Austrian.

Robin Soderling, who famously inflicted Nadal's first defeat at the French Open in 2009, insists Thiem has to take the initiative from the start.

By then, Nadal was finding his spots.

A few hours earlier, as Nadal and Thiem warmed up, the booming voice of the announcer at Court Philippe Chatrier detailed the bona fides of both.

But Thiem showed resilience in getting two break points on Nadal's serve.

He is the only man to beat Nadal on clay over the past two seasons, doing so twice.

The injury-plagued former US Open champion Del Potro wept courtside after beating third seed Cilic to reach the last four for the second time, but first in nine years.

The 16th-seeded Gauff, who is 14 years old, beat 15th-seeded Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada 6-4, 6-3.

Del Potro, the US Open victor in 2009, is playing the tournament for only the second time since 2012 after a spate of injuries.

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