Nadal set to clash with Thiem

Nadal set to clash with Thiem

In full control of the French Open final, a rather familiar position for him, Rafael Nadal suddenly was anxious.

"True, I understand that everybody here, you have to write things", he said.

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

The No. 7-seeded Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria, is appearing in his first Grand Slam final.

Just like that, Nadal was off on a five-game burst to lead 3-0 in the second set. The Spanish ace dropped the first set and was down 3-2 in the second before a rain break swung the momentum in his favour.

Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro said that he will have "nothing to lose" in his French Open semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal on Friday, after not even knowing whether he would play in the days before the tournament.

"If I'd won the second set I think it is totally different, the third set", he said. That would move him to within three of the all-time mark of 20 held by Roger Federer.

"I have lost a lot of opportunities through injuries, and I know the years are going quick".

Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem have exchanged breaks of serve in a hard-fought start to the French Open final.

Nadal dominated the Argentine in three sets, beating him 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in the clay court bout. Because being No. 1 without a Grand Slam, I always said, is not like everything, not 100 percent.


"Forget the 10 (French Open titles) and forget what happened previous year, Thiem has to remember what happened in Madrid which is a title Nadal wants to win nearly as much as the French", Wilander, Eurosport's chief analyst, told Reuters.

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

The fifth seed, who stunned Roger Federer to win the 2009 US Open at the age of 20, said he never imagined that the likes of the 20-time Grand Slam champion and Nadal would still be standing in his path at major tournaments nearly a decade later.

He added: "I am very happy to be back in the final here at Roland Garros".

Thiem had too much, though, battling to take the first two sets and then cruising through the third to earn his shot at the title. The French Open, like all Grand Slam tournaments, is best-of-five for men.

By then, Nadal was finding his spots.

Time and time again opponents have failed to find a formula to beat the top seed, who strides onto Court Philippe Chatrier like he owns it. Thiem withstood a barrage of break points to hold in a marathon sixth game, which he thought he had won at 40-30 when he left a wide ball, only for the umpire to overrule the line judge.

He is the only man to beat Nadal on clay over the past two seasons, doing so twice.

Del Potro had required treatment on a hip problem suffered early in the first set and he visibly wilted in the second, raising his arms in mock celebration when he won a solitary game while already 5-0 behind.

The 16th-seeded Gauff, who is 14 years old, beat 15th-seeded Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada 6-4, 6-3.

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