Friday, 17 August, 2018

'A little hope': Nadal vs Thiem in French Open final

'A little hope': Nadal vs Thiem in French Open final 'A little hope': Nadal vs Thiem in French Open final
Shannon Reynolds | 10 June, 2018, 03:10

Nadal becomes 11-0 in semifinal matches at the French Open; he's closing in on his record-extending 11th title at Roland Garros and what would be his 17th major trophy in all.

If Thiem wins on Sunday, he will be the youngest man to win at Roland Garros since Nadal won at 24 in 2010.

"It is nearly impossible to beat Rafa", said Del Potro who had his chances but failed to convert any of his seven break points before his challenge petered out into tired hopelessness.

It is nice to get the two best clay courters possible in Sunday's final.

By the absurd standards Nadal has set here, even facing those break points amount to a lapse, as does the opening set he dropped to the terrier-like Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals.

Argentine Del Potro often had Nadal in trouble in a ferocious first set but paid heavily for failing to convert any of the six break points that came his way at 1-1 and 4-4.

In Sunday's final, Nadal will face No. 7 Dominic Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria who is the only man to beat him on red clay over the past two seasons.

The No. 7-seeded Thiem reached the first Grand Slam final of his career by ending the surprising run of 72nd-ranked Marco Cecchinato of Italy at Roland Garros with a powerful performance in a 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1 victory Friday.

"I know I have to give a little more than I have given until now in this tournament".

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"But I have a plan". "Good tactics and mentality in the first set". That crucial early juncture altered the course of things, though. "I just enjoy the fact that I am here again". It is his most one-sided final win since allowing Federer just four games in the 2008 final. Cecchinato will make it interesting if he's able to play the way he did against Djokovic, but I think Dominic Thiem reaches his first grand slam final.

'If you lose, you lose, but I'm going to play with my highest passion and love for the game and for the sport, to try to have success. In my eyes, those odds are too bullish about Nadal's chances. He missed the tournament every year from 2013-16 because of injuries, including three operations on his left wrist.

"I couldn't play my best because of him", said del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion.

Too good for almost everyone, nearly every time, on clay.

"Nadal, in Paris, best-of-five, is still half a class above Dominic, half a level too good", said Bresnik, who has coached Thiem since Thiem was 9. Both defeats have been at the hands of Thiem. He will be wary of Thiem, who is the only man to defeat him on clay in the last two years.

So, if a player as good as Thiem is on clay is still struggling for parity with Nadal, and there is no other obvious contender to trouble him, his path to at least 13 or 14 French titles would seem to be one covered in rose petals - if he stays healthy.

The second set proved particularly tough before the dominance of the seventh seed eventually told against a player who had stunned Serbia's Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

Cecchinato's career has been tainted by his involvement in a match-fixing scandal; he was banned for 18 months in 2016 before having the suspension overturned. He needed two days to get it done after rain suspended play on Thursday when they were locked in the first-set tiebreaker.

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