Sunday, 19 August, 2018

'I have a plan' for Rafael Nadal, says finalist Dominic Thiem

GETTYRafael Nadal takes on Diego Schwartzman in the French Open quarter-finals GETTYRafael Nadal takes on Diego Schwartzman in the French Open quarter-finals
Julia Gonzales | 09 June, 2018, 08:45

Nadal edged a tight first set against Del Potro but then blew the fifth seed away. "If I want to beat him, I have to play the way I did in Rome [last year] and in Madrid", said Nadal's opponent in the final Dominic Thiem - the only person to have beaten him on clay this season.

However, Nadal has won both their clashes at Roland Garros - in 2014 and in last year's semi-finals by a comfortable 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 margin. For me it's incredible.

World number one Nadal was the overwhelming pre-tournament favourite to win an event he has dominated since making his debut as a teenager in 2005. It is nice to get the two best clay courters possible in Sunday's final. I believe I can be ready for that final.

Federer previously held the men's record for the most finals at a single major, competing in 11 at Wimbledon during his remarkable career.

He made it to the semifinals at the French Open in each of the previous two years and has consistently been on the brink of quarterfinal appearances in all other Grand Slams as well. "And I have been trying and trying every day to fix my problem in my wrist", Del Potro said.

"It's not easy. I've been on court just a couple of minutes ago".

"It is nearly impossible to beat Rafa".

Del Potro has served 53 aces to reach the semi-final and his forehand, a stroke that could chop down trees, worries the very best as he showed by beating Roger Federer at last year's U.S. Open and winning the Indian Wells title in March.

But the 16-time major victor looked in danger of being beaten here for only the third time in his career, trailing a set and break on Wednesday to an opponent who had never previously been beyond the last 32. "I think if I'm facing Rafa, I'm not the one who has the pressure". I had a lot of break points.

Del Potro, 29, is a popular figure among tennis fans, with affection for him growing further as a result of the catalogue of injuries he has suffered in recent years.

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For, in Paris, at Court Philippe Chartrier, on the last day of Roland Garros, Nadal has never lost.

Nadal and Thiem will face off on Sunday at a 9 a.m. ET to close the French Open.

This is a good attitude to have when you play against Rafael Nadal, who gleans invincibility from the orange-red dust in Paris.

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.

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.

After nicking the first set with a break in the final game, Nadal cracked 13 winners and allowed Del Potro just 16 points in a second set lasting just half an hour.

In the first semifinal, Dominic Thiem ended Cecchinato's Cinderella run via a 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1 victory.

A fourth set point for Thiem was erased with - what else? - a drop shot by Cecchinato.

"That was definitely the key to the match", Cecchinato said.

Del Potro gave 11 break point chances in 23 service games (0.48 per game) in this quarter-final, considerably higher than his 0.35 per game figure on clay in 2018.

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