My dominance is never routine, says Nadal

10 June, 2018, 03:10 | Author: Laura Christensen
  • Rafael Nadal's French Open set streak ends in quarterfinals

"It is nearly impossible to beat Rafa", said Del Potro, who had his chances in the semi-final, but failed to convert any of his seven break points before his challenge petered out into tired hopelessness.

Sunday's final will be Nadal's 24th Grand Slam final, putting him second all time.

"Second mistake, in the first set, he's holding very easily and what does he do on the break points?"

After a sticky first set in which Del Potro's powerful groundstrokes and heavy serve earned the Argentine several chances to forge ahead, Nadal seized control with as devastating a display as he has ever produced on Philippe Chatrier court.

"He's a big favorite against everybody", said Thiem, who reached his first Grand Slam final by ending the out-of-nowhere run of 72nd-ranked Marco Cecchinato of Italy 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1.

"But I have a plan".

Del Potro did everything right against Nadal in that opener, except actually winning the set. "But after the loss, I went a little bit down mentally". It is his most one-sided final win since allowing Federer just four games in the 2008 final.

Patrick Mouratoglou, coach of Serena Williams and commentator for Eurosport, believes Thiem has the game to upset Nadal, but he'll need to execute his game plan perfectly. The Austrian reached the semifinal stage at this competition a year ago but is confident of going one better this time.

Conditions will play a huge rule in Thiem's chances.

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


'It's been a lot of years of playing and doing the same things every year. 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, but said afterward it was not a big deal.

Of that set, Thiem said: "If I had lost it, it would have been a very close match". I think this is too good of an opportunity for Thiem to pass up.

They tried their best to rouse their man in the third set but it was mission impossible as Nadal, clubbing the ball as if his life depended on it, churned out winners.

Injuries have hindered the Spaniard's Wimbledon campaigns in recent years but assuming he comes through Sunday's final unscathed he could yet mount an assault on the All England Club title he has won twice before.

He is the only player to beat Nadal on clay in the past two years - in Rome last year and in Madrid last month - and this season no other player, not even the undisputed claycourt king, can count as many match wins on the red dirt.

In greenback terms that comes out at $2.6m, making it the smallest winner's prize of the year's four Grand Slam events and almost $1m less than the richest tournament the US Open which paid its 2017 winners - Nadal and Sloane Stephens - $3.7m each. Stephens won last year's U.S. Open; Halep is 0-3 in major finals.

Cecchinato, who was banned for match-fixing in 2016, had never won a match in the French Open prior to this year's edition.

Cecchinato brilliantly saved two break points at 2-2 in the second and continued to hold his own to reach a tie-break, where a series of sensational winners from both players saw Thiem let three successive set points slip.

"We have the burden of debt, so we will not be able to continue increasing prize money at the rhythm of previous years", said FFT chief Bernard Giudicelli.

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