Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem set for French Open final

Last Updated June 10 2018, 16:06Tennis
Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal powered his way into the French Open final with a straight-sets win over Juan Martin del Potro.

Now only Dominic Thiem stands in the way of Nadal and what seems an inevitable 11th Roland Garros title.

The Spanish world number one edged a tight first set but then simply blew fifth seed Del Potro away.

It was swift and brutal. Del Potro had forced six break points during the first set but Nadal fended each one off.

Nadal, by contrast, had not had a sniff on Del Potro's serve until, at 5-4, two swishes of his forehand forced two set points, the second of which he converted when the Argentinian netted.

Del Potro had required treatment on a hip problem suffered early in the first set and he visibly wilted in the second, raising his arms in mock celebration when he won a solitary game while already 5-0 behind.

Relentless Nadal broke to love at the start of the third, and as he moved on to match point an exhausted Del Potro paused for breath, bent double, as if he had been punched in the stomach.

He probably felt as though he had been, as Nadal completed a devastating 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory.

His record at Roland Garros now stands at 85 wins and two defeats. One of those victories came against Thiem in last year's semi-final and was, if anything, more comprehensive than this one. However, Thiem did beat Nadal on the clay of Madrid last month.

Ominously for Thiem, Nadal said: "My feeling is I have a very difficult match against a player that is playing great. I know I have to play my best if I want to have chances.

"Sunday is the day to give my best, the day to increase even a little bit more the level. I hope to be ready to do it. That's the goal."

Earlier Thiem needed to survive a nasty bout of the jitters to see off Marco Cecchinato and reach his first grand slam final.

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.

However, having squandered one set point, he went in for a simple backhand volley winner only to dump it into the net.

The third quickly disappeared as well and Cecchinato had set points of his own, but Thiem finally put the Italian away before going on to win 7-5 7-6 (12/10) 6-1.

"I think the big key was the second set because it was a close tie-break," said the 24-year-old.

"I saved two set points and luckily I won it. It was 6-4 and the one thing I wanted to do was win the set - and I missed an easy volley at one moment which was not a nice feeling."

Cecchinato's catalogue of drop shots which helped account for Novak Djokovic kept Thiem on his toes throughout, but once the pivotal tie-break went the seventh seed's way Cecchinato's unlikely run was all but over.

His Paris heroics have not exactly been the uplifting tale they should have been, though.

Cecchinato's career has been tainted by his involvement in a match-fixing scandal; he was banned for 18 months in 2016 before having the suspension overturned. The 25-year-old has refused to answer questions on the matter throughout the fortnight.

Nevertheless, Cecchinato can look back on a breakthrough tournament - he had never won a match at a grand slam before beating Marius Copil 10-8 in the fifth set last week.

"If I'd won the second set I think it is totally different, the third set," he said. "But after the loss, I went a little bit down mentally."

Related tennis links

Most Read

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package1

Saturday's Premier League tips

George Pitts brings you the best bets, Super 6 predictions and top stats for each of Saturday's four 3pm Premier League encounters.

Check out our free horse racing selections and preview for today's action2

Friday's racing preview

Nick Robson is backing Archie Watson to claim Listed success with Shumookhi at Newbury - he has a tip for every Friday race.

Our best bets for the latest round of Sky Bet EFL action3

Sky Bet EFL betting preview

After five winning tips from six last week, including a 6/1 headline, Tom Carnduff looks at the latest round of EFL games.

Find out who our team are backing ahead of today's racing4

Sporting Life: Daily Nap

Matt Brocklebank provides the nap of the day for Friday after tipping a 3/1 winner at Salisbury on Thursday.

Brandt Snedeker5

Snedeker cards 59 in Carolina

America's Brandt Snedeker carded the 10th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history with an opening 59 in the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina.

Most Read

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package1

Saturday's Premier League tips

George Pitts brings you the best bets, Super 6 predictions and top stats for each of Saturday's four 3pm Premier League encounters.

Check out our free horse racing selections and preview for today's action2

Friday's racing preview

Nick Robson is backing Archie Watson to claim Listed success with Shumookhi at Newbury - he has a tip for every Friday race.

Our best bets for the latest round of Sky Bet EFL action3

Sky Bet EFL betting preview

After five winning tips from six last week, including a 6/1 headline, Tom Carnduff looks at the latest round of EFL games.

Find out who our team are backing ahead of today's racing4

Sporting Life: Daily Nap

Matt Brocklebank provides the nap of the day for Friday after tipping a 3/1 winner at Salisbury on Thursday.

Brandt Snedeker5

Snedeker cards 59 in Carolina

America's Brandt Snedeker carded the 10th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history with an opening 59 in the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina.

Racing Tips

Find out who our team are backing ahead of today's racing

Sporting Life: Daily Nap

Matt Brocklebank provides the nap of the day for Friday after tipping a 3/1 winner at Salisbury on Thursday.

Check out our free horse racing selections and preview for today's action

Friday's racing preview

Nick Robson is backing Archie Watson to claim Listed success with Shumookhi at Newbury - he has a tip for every Friday race.

Get your bets on!

Our best bets

Check out all of our available betting tips and previews of the forthcoming sporting action.

Next Race Off
12:10 Fairview
9
(3)
Altruistic
J: Luyolo Mxothwa
18
(17)
Wait A Sec
J: R Danielson
16
(11)
Nifty Fifty
J: A Domeyer

Football Tips

Our best bets for Birmingham's clash with Swansea

Birmingham v Swansea betting tips

Friday night's Sky Bet Championship action sees Birmingham host Swansea. Tom Carnduff picks out a best bet for the game.

Our best bets for the latest round of Sky Bet EFL action

Sky Bet EFL betting preview

After five winning tips from six last week, including a 6/1 headline, Tom Carnduff looks at the latest round of EFL games.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package

Saturday's Premier League tips

George Pitts brings you the best bets, Super 6 predictions and top stats for each of Saturday's four 3pm Premier League encounters.