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

Yet Thiem's recovery was exceptional, moving out of sight with a ruthless second break and a confident hold to wrap up the opener.

Thiem's confidence has grown as he reached the final of a major for the first time after falling in the semis in the last two editions of the French Open.

But Paris, to tweak the title of Ernest Hemingway's famous love letter to the city, has been a predictable feast for Nadal. "It was nearly impossible to beat Nadal".

Ominously, perhaps, for Thiem, Nadal said: "I have to improve a little bit".

How much prize money can each player earn at Roland Garros?

I won't be going in again and backing Thiem in the final, but I won't be trading out of my pre-tournament bet either.

"I think if I'm facing Rafa, I'm not the one who has the pressure".

Truth is, there were not many the rest of the way, as Nadal finished with 35 winners and just 19 unforced errors.

Nadal may be historically dominant, writes Jack Houghton, but Sunday's final could be a changing-of-the-guard, and an aggressive approach to the Set Betting market is the call.

"I'm also aware that here it's tougher".

Free to impose his game against wilting Cecchinato, Thiem ruthlessly closed out the match in straight sets. Two heavyweights of the game going head to.wait a minute, haven't we heard that many times before this tournament and then been left hopelessly disappointed?


Nadal seldom leaves the door cracked very long.

The 32-year-old consolidated the break with a trademark forehand as Del Potro looked a beaten man, and another crosscourt return-winner from the King of Clay opened up the double break of serve.

"What will be important will be to try and make him play in uncomfortable situations", said Moya, the 1998 French Open champion. Faltering even slightly "is not something that is happening very often with him, but the way he's been playing the last three sets yesterday and the last two sets today, is gonna help his confidence".

Nadal has also won six of his last eight grand slam final appearances and is 10-0 in French Open final appearances.

His decision to enter a smaller tournament in Lyon, France, the week before Roland Garros - an event he won - doesn't appear to have sapped him.

Thiem used to hike through the Alps in his homeland as part of his training, but the 24-year-old had an even bigger mountain to climb now.

Thiem has been to the semi-finals in Paris three years in a row, but he lost to eventual champions Novak Djokovic in 2016, then Nadal in 2017.

Now Thiem is back for another attempt after navigating a draw that included 19th-seeded Kei Nishikori, the second-seeded Zverev and on Friday, the unseeded Italian surprise Marco Cecchinato in a semifinal that Thiem won, 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1, after saving three set points in the second-set tiebreaker.

Only three times (once when he withdrew with an injury) has the Mallorcan not reached the French Open final since he first re-defined claycourt tennis in 2005 as a sleeveless warrior. He is in the age of improvement.

The battle between Thiem and Nadal will be an interesting one to look out for.

Cecchinato, the world number 72, played fearlessly and used his whole arsenal of claycourt weapons, but he came up short against the only player to beat Nadal on his favourite surface this season.

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