Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Thiem ends Cecchinato fairytale to reach French Open final

Rafael Nadal has lost his first set at the French Open since 2015 GETTY IMAGES Rafael Nadal has lost his first set at the French Open since 2015
Sidney Guerrero | 08 June, 2018, 20:36

In the other remaining quarterfinal, which will continue Thursday at Court Suzanne Lenglen, No. 3 Marin Cilic and No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro were at 5-all in a first-set tiebreaker when the play-ending shower came.

Ruthless Rafael Nadal punished Juan Martin del Potro for missed opportunities as he reached his 11th French Open final with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory on Friday.

Meanwhile Austria's Dominic Thiem is bidding to reach his maiden Grand Slam final against surprise semifinalist Marco Cecchinato of Italy. "And I have been trying and trying every day to fix my problem in my wrist", Del Potro said.

However, the 25-year-old failed to take the three sets points he fashioned and was brutally punished after going two sets down, with two breaks for Thiem allowing him to secure the third set in just 28 minutes.

Nadal has never failed to win the title when reaching the last four at Roland Garros, but knows that Del Potro, who he has lost to five times, is a risky opponent.

Nadal was not in a charitable frame of mind, though, as he cantered through his next service game with new balls to edge closer to another final.

Del Potro is playing in the French Open semifinals for the first time in nine years.

And yet, insists Nadal: "I just go on court knowing that every match is hard, and I can lose and I can win".

"I played more aggressive".

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Nadal was broken five of the first eight times he served.

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.

The Argentinian had forced six break points during the first set but each time Nadal fended them off. Nadal 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 Del Potro netted.

At World No 72, the Italian is the lowest-ranked French Open semi-finalist since 1999.

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. "Gave me time for reflection, to calm my nerves and to see how I needed to change things".

Sloane Stephens' clash with Madison Keys represented a rematch of the 2017 US Open final, which Stephens won.

"I felt that I was playing a little bit under more stress than usual, and he was able to take control of the point too many times", said Nadal.

After serving out the second set, he broke at the start of the third as he continued to make life tough for the 11th seed.

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