If anyone can take down Rafa at Roland Garros, it's Dominic Thiem

If anyone can take down Rafa at Roland Garros, it's Dominic Thiem

If anyone can take down Rafa at Roland Garros, it's Dominic Thiem

Rafael Nadal says he will have to "play his best" to beat Dominic Thiem in Sunday's French Open final and secure an 11th Roland Garros title.

Nadal has beaten Thiem handily in straight sets in both of their Roland-Garros matches, though, including last year's semi-final.

Fitness permitting, Nadal is arguably the most in-form player in world tennis at the present moment and his record at Roland Garros is barely believable. He beat me in Madrid this year and he has great power. 'I know I have to play my best if I want to have chances.

Meanwhile, Thiem reaches a Grand Slam final for the first time in his career.

Thiem's rise to the top continued when he ended unheralded Italian Marco Cecchinato's run to reach the final of the French Open with a 7-5 7-6 (10) 6-1 win on Friday.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion has won the tournament 10 times.

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. But I get closer to them, just asking who was it?

Nadal raced away with 14 of the last 17 games.

Prevailing on Nadal's favourite court in Paris over five sets will be far harder, however. "I will try everything to make my plan also go to work out a little bit here and not only in Madrid or in Rome", he anticipated a final against Nadal.

World 72 Cecchinato had knocked out three seeded players to reach the semi-finals, including 12-time major victor Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

Nadal, dubbed the "King of Clay" for his domination on the red dirt, had his back against the wall at 3-2 down in the second set Wednesday before the match was halted for rain. "But I guess the way he's been playing the last three sets yesterday and the last two sets today is going to help give him confidence", said Moya on Friday. In the victory, Thiem won 83 percent of his first serve points and 61 percent of his second serve points.

Nadal saved another three break points before holding with a sublime victor, then unleashed a couple of magnificent shots and Del Potro netted a backhand to lose a set which he had the better of.

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.

The 10-time champion is playing Dominic Thiem. Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months in 2016, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality.

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.

Thiem battled to a 7-5 7-6 and then walloped a clearly dejected Cecchinato 6-1 in the third to qualify for the final after making the semi-final on three consecutive occasions.

"That was definitely the key", Cecchinato said.

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