French Open 2018: Rafael Nadal insists he’s still human

Posted June 13, 2018

Rafael Nadal improved to 11-0 in French Open semifinals as he seeks his 11th title at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament, saving all seven break points he faced and overwhelming 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

However, Nadal has won both their clashes at Roland Garros - in 2014 and in last year's semi-finals by a comfortable 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 margin. Nadal's introduction included a year-by-year accounting of every time he'd already won the French Open.

On Sunday, Nadal will face No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem, a 24-year-old Austrian who reached his first Grand Slam final by eliminating unseeded Marco Cecchinato in straight sets.

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.

Nadal qualified for the finals to reach the 11th French Open championship in his career.

True, he was obliterated by Nadal in the semi-final 12 months ago but Thiem has added more aggression to his natural claycourt weapons, specifically the forehand, as he displayed when stunning Nadal in the Madrid quarter-final.

Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka in the 2017 French Open.

He is the only man to beat the world number one on clay in the last two years - in Madrid this spring and in Rome last year.

"He's an fantastic player", Nadal said.

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

Nadal tightened his grip, going to 5-1 on another double break in the third set and sealed the match when Del Potro hit a backhand long.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.But Thiem, 24, was too strong and now believes he has a particularly powerful weapon on his side for the final - breakfast.

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"To beat Nadal in Paris, on the center court in the finals, I think this is, it's not impossible, but it's maybe one of the biggest (challenges) you can have in tennis".

The forecast says there is a chance of rain.

The first set was a tight affair, with Thiem claiming the decisive break in the 11th game but the Italian retained his composure to send the second to a tie-break. But I know how to play against him.

"I told him he needed to hit the ball very high and try to come inside the court".

On the resumption of play, Nadal held his two service points to take the second set 6-3.

"I made three surgeries in my left wrist and I was close to quit (ting) this sport", Del Potro said, according to the Ronald Garros website.

Nadal acknowledged that Thiem has been a "very complex" opponent.

Thiem weathered three set points for Cecchinato, at 7-6, 9-8 and 10-9. So it was good for me that I won it...

In the third game, Schwartzman missed three points in a row and then lost the game when he missed a drop attempt.

The 25-year-old was banned for match-fixing in 2016, a penalty overturned on appeal.