French Open 2018, men's final

French Open 2018, men's final

Both men knew that full well.

"It is nearly impossible to beat Rafa".

The world number one goes in search of Roland Garros title number 11 against Dominic Thiem of Austria on Sunday.

The battle wore on and on, before, on the Austrian's fifth set point, Cecchinato went long to fall two sets behind.

There was a sense of inevitability in the air when Del Potro served at 4-5 and sure enough Nadal turned the screws to grab two set points at 15-40.

6-1 defeat of surprise semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato ended that miserable streak, and Thiem, who has already beaten Nadal on clay this season, could now face the defending champion in the tournament decider.

He beat the Spaniard in the Madrid quarter-finals this year having won in the Rome last-eight in 2017.

But Del Potro bided his time, applied some pressure at 5-5 and Australian Open runner-up Cilic cracked. That crucial early juncture altered the course of things, though. So when I had the chances, I just tried to convert.

The world number one is still the overwhelming favorite to pick up his 11th French Open title, but former victor Mats Wilander thinks Juan Martin del Potro, Nadal's semi-final opponent could cause him some troubles.

She improved in the second set, breaking early on only to be pegged back at 4-4 before Halep held a marathon ninth game and broke for a 6-1 6-4 win.

"He said "I'm a human man, a human person and I get nervous".

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Nadal compiled a 35-20 edge in winners while making only 19 unforced errors against del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion.

This was the No. 5-seeded del Potro's first semifinal at Roland Garros since 2009. If he is looking for further inspiration it is there on his doorstep, in the form of a man regarded as the first king of clay. In the fourth game Friday, del Potro clutched at his left hip after being wrong-footed by one shot from Nadal and was visited by a doctor at the next changeover.

"I need to regenerate and have a good breakfast to keep up my good level".

Nadal and Thiem have met nine times - all of them on clay. He gave Nadal a sound beating in Madrid, and whilst that has never been Nadal's favourite tournament - with suggestions that the relative altitude makes the ball travel faster through the air, dulling Nadal's usual advantages on clay - I'm inclined to view it as a sign of a growing equality on clay between the two of them.

Can Thiem take at least two sets from Nadal on Sunday, and in the process, offer up Nadal's first challenge on a big stage in months? He would simply have to remember what worked for him in Madrid this year and try to replicate it.

The number one seed brushed aside his Argentine opponent with minimal fuss, edging the first set 6-4 before completing the win 6-1 6-2 in the heat on Court Philippe Chatrier.

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"When I missed that volley it wasn't a very nice feeling".

Breaking serve in the first game and bouncing to a 4-2 lead, Thiem controlled proceedings before Cecchinato reeled off the next three games with trademark flair and adventure. Thiem got to 10-all with a drop shot of his own.

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