Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

French Open 2018: Rafael Nadal Eyes 11th Title As Clock Ticks

French Open 2018: Rafael Nadal Eyes 11th Title As Clock Ticks

Rafael Nadal, the 10-time champion, takes on Dominic Thiem in the French Open final on Sunday.

ESPN's Nicolas Pereira recaps Rafael Nadal's comfortable semifinal win over Juan Martin del Potro to set up a meeting with Dominic Thiem.

Nadal saved three break points at 1-all in the opening set and another three at 4-all.

"True, I understand that everybody here, you have to write things", he said.

"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.

"I have to play that way like I did in Rome and in Madrid", Thiem said.

Thiem has beaten Nadal on clay in each of the past two seasons, including just a few weeks ago on clay in Madrid, so that will certainly boost his confidence. They came from non-ATP level matches, which is where the vast majority of tennis' corruption takes place, but corrupt behavior at the lower levels becomes a problem when those players graduate to the big time. "It's so good for me, for my team, for my family". But for me, every tournament, I believe that there is chances, limited chances in your career. "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.

Seventh seed Thiem, who will be playing in his first grand slam final, is regarded as second only to Nadal on clay - albeit probably quite a distant second.

Thiem, who was playing in his third successive French Open semi-final, admitted the second set had been a nervy encounter after needing five set points to get through it. "I never dreamed in 2005 when I played my first final here that I would be in another one". He forced multiple break points in the first set, but was unable to convert even one of them. After he held there, that was pretty much that for del Potro.


Play resumed on a sunny Court Suzanne Lenglen with the towering fifth and third seeds locked at 5-5 in the first set tiebreak after rain had curtailed their high-octane clash on Wednesday.

Del Potro insisted his hip had not troubled him during the match, instead putting the defeat down to one simple fact: "His game is too good for me".

"That was not a nice feeling".

Someone in the stands cried out during his serve, disrupting his focus as he double faulted and handed Cilic a critical break for 5-4 in the second set.

Clay court supremo Nadal and 10-time French Open champion Nadal admitted to bout of nerves during his hard=fought quarter-final win over Argentinian underdog Diego Schwartzman.

Injuries have hindered the Spaniard's Wimbledon campaigns in recent years but assuming he comes through Sunday's final unscathed he could yet mount an assault on the All England Club title he has won twice before.

Cecchinato, who had not won a Grand Slam match before arriving in Paris, deployed the same kick serve, topspin groundstrokes and wicked drop shots that he had used to upset three seeded players, including former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, in a row.

Thiem sent Cecchinato scurrying around the court before breaking decisively for a 6-5 lead with a lovely forehand victor. After holding there, Nadal broke del Potro to take that set and was on his way, taking 14 of the last 17 games.

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