Nadal beats del Porto, advances to final

Jo Caldwell
June 13, 2018

Only two players have managed to beat him so far at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament - Robin Soldering in the fourth round of the 2009 edition and Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final of 2015 edition.

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.

The 10-time champion was much-improved under the sunshine on Court Philippe Chatrier after finding life hard the night before, clinching a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over dogged Argentinian Schwartzman on his fourth match point.

"Del Potro has achieved great victories this year".

"In every game that I served, I had problems". Two more break chances were saved when Diego sent a service return out.

The 10-time Roland Garros champion has won 23 of his 26 Grand Slam semifinals.

This was the No. 5-seeded del Potro's first semifinal at Roland Garros since 2009. After guzzling water during that break, Nadal felt better and was back to playing his unmistakable brand of almost unbeatable clay-court tennis.

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The 32-year-old Spaniard, with 16 majors to his name, will play his 24th Grand Slam final at Roland Garros against Dominic Thiem who is in his first.

Rafael Nadal lifted the French Open trophy for an 11th time Sunday - and this time without the guidance of Uncle Toni.

And Thiem appeared happy at the prospect of Nadal reaching the final, pointing out that, as the underdog, he would be able to play without fear. He's playing with big confidence. I know I have to play my best if I want to have chances. The French Open, like all Grand Slam tournaments, is best-of-five for men.

Nadal has a 9-5 head-to-head record against del Potro.

The "King of Clay" regrouped himself on Thursday and wrapped up the match at 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

"He's a big favorite against everybody", Thiem said.

"But I have a plan".

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Nadal, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, claimed his 85th win here against just two losses after weathering a big-hitting opening from 2009 US Open victor Del Potro to win 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

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

"You have to be focused and keep your passion for the game". However, he faced a match point at 30-40 but Nadal lost it with n unforced backhand error.

In the second-set tiebreaker Friday, Thiem went ahead 6-3, but missed out on three set points there, including a bad volley into the net at 6-4 that left him chewing ruefully on his left index finger.

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

This was not the case during the first two tight sets between the Thiem and Cecchinato. Thiem, seeded seventh, also swept through his semifinal match, beating unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato, 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1. Thiem got to 10-all with a drop shot of his own.

However, having squandered one set point, he went in for a simple backhand volley victor only to dump it into the net.

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The third set was dominated by Thiem, who raced to a 4-0, two-break lead in 12 minutes. "The match changed a lot", he said.

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