Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Sport | By Joe Gonzales

Nadal beats Thiem in straight sets for 11th French Open title — NewsAlert

Nadal beats Thiem in straight sets for 11th French Open title — NewsAlert

Nadal certainly lived up to his "King of Clay" nickname in Friday's semifinal against Juan Martin del Potro, crushing the sentimental favorite 6-4 6-1 6-2 to reach a record 11th final at Roland Garros.

"He's playing with big confidence, winning the Lyon Open before Roland Garros and playing some great matches here".

This time, Thiem instead faced Cecchinato, who never had won a Grand Slam match until this tournament and was the lowest-ranked men's semifinalist at the clay-court major in 19 years.

Del Potro will be playing in a Grand Slam semi-final for the fifth time when he steps onto Court Philippe Chatrier, with a place in the final against either surprise package Marco Cecchinato or Dominic Thiem up for grabs.

If there were any reason for a bit of intrigue entering Sunday, it was this: Thiem beat Nadal on red clay at Rome in May 2017 and again at Madrid last month.

Rafael Nadal insists he remains as motivated as ever to add another French Open crown to the 10 he already owns.

The victor of 10 French, three US Open, two Wimbledon and one Australian Open titles has won 87 of his 89 matches at the French. "He's one of the best players in the world on this surface", Nadal said.

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

This was not the case during the first two tight sets between the Thiem and Cecchinato. "Without working hard and going through tough moments and still being focused on your passion for the game it is impossible to be here".

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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"But I believe I will be ready for the final".

Against del Potro, Nadal did not record a single ace and converted only 61 percent of his first serves.

Rafael Nadal has consolidated his lead in the French Open final by breaking Dominic Thiem in the Austrian's first service game of the second set. I know I have to play my best tennis to have a chance on Sunday.

Cecchinato had never won a Grand Slam match before this year's Roland Garros but made the semis with a string of stunning wins.

"Of course there is pressure especially in grand slam finals, because I went a very long way now and I don't want to lose the finals", he said.

Nadal acknowledged that Thiem has been a "very complex" opponent. The Argentine dropped the second set against the Croat but came back strong to take the match 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.

Up in the stands, Nadal's uncle Toni, his former coach, was nervous, too, "because I thought maybe we can have a problem", he said.

Increasingly frustrated at Cecchinato's resistance, Thiem lost his composure completely in the second set.

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

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