Rafael Nadal takes on Dominic Thiem in the French Open men's final

10 June, 2018, 17:01 | Author: Amy Huff
  • Diego Schwartzman was in control before the first rain interruption

Nadal, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, claimed his 85th win in Paris against just two losses after weathering a big-hitting opening set from 2009 US Open victor Del Potro to win 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

Spain's Nadal will next play another Argentine Juan Martin del Potro after the former US Open champion beat Marin Cilic 7-6 5-7 6-3 7-5.

Rafael Nadal is coming off a straight sets win over Juan Martín del Potro that took 25 games to decide.

"Four years ago, I didn't know if I would be back in a final", Nadal told reporters.

The win continues Nadal's undefeated run on championship weekend in Roland Garros-the Spaniard has never lost in Paris after reaching the semifinals.

Across the last 12 months on clay, Nadal has held serve 88.7% to Thiem's 85.7% (3.0% edge) while breaking opponents 50.0% to 30.1% (19.9% edge), and this incredible advantage he has on return was a big factor in me pricing Nadal as a [1.17] favourite to lift the trophy today. I mean, not many players can beat him on clay. 'I know I have to play my best if I want to have chances.

Victory on Sunday will give Nadal an 11th title in Paris and equal Margaret Court's all-time record for wins at the same Slam event - in her case, the Australian Open from 1960 and 1973.

In order to get a shot to defeat Nadal on clay, Thiem had to first get past an improbable semifinalist, No. 72 Marco Cecchinato, which no one else had managed to do at this edition of Roland Garros.

The 11th-seeded Schwartzman appeared to have done his homework well as he dominated the early exchanges to bag the opening set: an achievement in itself as it was the first one Nadal had lost at Roland Garros since 2015.

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

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After Simona Halep won a maiden grand slam in the women's singles yesterday, what chance does Dominic Thiem have this afternoon of making it a weekend of first-timers? Thiem has split his last 10 final appearances and is 8-5 in career final appearances on clay.

While disappointed to miss out on the final, an upbeat Del Potro reflected on a positive campaign in Paris after at one stage fearing he would miss the tournament due to injury.

"The stop yesterday helps, because it was in a tough moment of my match", Nadal said.

"You can win a set, but not a match against Rafa", said Del Potro keen not to over-egg any hint of weakness in Nadal's game.

In 2016, Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality.

If you listen to Thiem's coach, Gunter Bresnik, his chances of winning are akin to landing a million dollar jackpot.

Moya says he'll make sure they try to address that ahead of the final.

Scalps in Rome and Madrid are impressive but the ultimate test awaits the 24-year-old on the final Sunday of a fascinating two weeks in the French capital. Thiem got to 10-all with a drop shot of his own. Thiem may well even take a set.

"That was definitely the key", Cecchinato said.

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