French Open glance: Nadal taking on Thiem in final | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

French Open glance: Nadal taking on Thiem in final | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

French Open glance: Nadal taking on Thiem in final | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Plenty have gone in with sound tactical plans against the 16-times Grand Slam champion in Paris but when the forehand bombardment begins, the best-laid plans usually fall apart as was the case in Friday's semi-final when Nadal thrashed Juan Martin del Potro who many thought posed a credible threat.

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 in 14 meetings, is a risky opponent.

And despite a late stutter as Schwartzman saved three match points, Nadal wrapped up victory to keep alive his hopes of equalling Margaret Court's record of winning a single Grand Slam singles title 11 times.

Thiem went through one pivotal stretch against Cecchinato, a 25-year-old from Sicily who never had won a Grand Slam match until this tournament and was the lowest-ranked men's semi-finalist at the clay-court major in 19 years.

The seventh-seeded Austrian ended Nadal's record-breaking run of 50 successive sets won on clay at the Madrid Open earlier this season, while he also saw off the Spaniard in last year's Internazionali d'Italia.

So what will he need to do to counter the credible threat of Thiem, the only man to beat him on clay this year, on Sunday?

Yet despite lagging behind on the size of its winner's paycheque, the French Open is more generous overall than both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

If not, it will be Goodnight Vienna for the man with one of the best single-handed backhands in tennis.

The other semifinal will be played between No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem and Italian underdog Marco Cecchinato.

A fourth set point for Thiem vanished because of one of Cecchinato's many drop shots.

The world number one goes in search of Roland Garros title number 11 against Dominic Thiem of Austria on Sunday.

Nadal won the pair's only previous two meetings at the French Open, including their semi-final clash a year ago, but Thiem is confident he can upset the world number one on Sunday. Good thing is I played a lot of good matches this clay-court season.

The forecast says there is a chance of rain. Although he lost the first point of the fourth game, a flawless drop shot got Schwartzman to 15-all, and a backhand victor from followed by a drop shot gave Nadal a second break an 4-1 lead.

He added: "For me, the level is very good at the moment". I know I have to play my best if I want to have chances.

If I had won the second set, I think it would have been totally different the third set.

"The big key was the second set‚" he said. Cecchinato, who upset Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals after winning two pulsating tiebreaks, rallied and even held three set points prior to Thiem triumphing 12-10.

"Otherwise, it's not a very nice feeling".

"I'm really happy that I won this Grand Slam".

This time, however, he lost it 12/10 despite having three set points.

"I came here without big expectations", said 2009 US Open champion Del Potro who has flirted with retirement on numerous occasions after a career-long battle with wrist injuries.

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