Rafael Nadal ready for 'tough final' against Dominic Thiem on Sunday
Rafael Nadal ready for 'tough final' against Dominic Thiem on Sunday
Nadal overcomes nerves to meet del Potro in French Open semi-finals
12 June, 2018, 23:32
Nadal will face Austrian Dominic Thiem for the championship on Sunday. "It was very hard to stop that", Nadal told reporters. "It doesn't matter what sport". He's not going to give you a free point if he is up 5-0 or down 5-0. Injuries have hampered the King of Clay throughout the past year.
"I thought that after nine years I will play a different one, not Rafa or Roger", he added.
Nadal, in an on-court interview, also said he's sure that runner-up Thiem will win the tournament in "the next couple of years". And for good reason.
While Thiem beat Marco Cecchinato in first semi-final to reach his first Grand Slam final. He will now be looking to win a record 11th grand slam title of the tournament.
"I think it helps, definitely, knowing that you were the last guy to beat him", said Bresnik, whose association with Thiem spans more than 15 years.
Nadal was broken three times and lost the opening set of his quarterfinal Wednesday against 11th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina by a score of 6-4.
Nadal had just 32 unforced errors in the final three sets of the match, and although Schwartzman played well, he just couldn't recapture the lightning of his 20 winners in the first set alone, picking up 17 for the rest of the match.
But at 4-5 Thiem's serve let him down badly, handing Nadal three set points.
"He's a big favorite against everybody", he told reporters. I know I have to play my best if I want to have chances. "I have a plan". "Then I converted the important one".
Nadal acknowledged that Thiem has been a "very complex" opponent. He was not playing his best tennis. "I can say a lot of things, but the easiest answer and the real answer is to play well". "He has the power". Or at least not a blowout.
Relentless Nadal broke to love at the start of the third, and as he moved on to match point an exhausted Del Potro paused for breath, bent double, as if he had been punched in the stomach. He has undergone four wrist surgeries but the issue, thankfully, was a minor hip complaint.
Although he lost the first point of the fourth game, a ideal drop shot got Schwartzman to 15-all, and a backhand victor from followed by a drop shot gave Nadal a second break an 4-1 lead.
Schwartzman held serve to open the fourth se and Nadal held with an overhead smash to level one game apiece.
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"I think the big key was the second set because it was a close tie-break", said the 24-year-old.
He fired long on a first set point, Nadal saved the second with a jaw-dropping drop shot but on the third, just after the match was interrupted for a few minutes while an unwell spectator was evacuated, Schwartzman unleashed a stunning forehand victor down the line - his 20th victor.
"It's tough to speak now", said an emotional Del Potro.
And on the penultimate point of the semifinal, after being run ragged, the 2009 US Open victor could only offer up a smile.
Rain still starring in the French Open! "Good tactics and mentality in the first set".
Nadal then took the set 6-4 when Thiem hit a forehand long.
But if there is a tad of intrigue entering this final, it is because of what happened in Rome on May 19, 2017, and in Madrid on May 11, 2018.
"I can not believe it now", Karin Thiem, a tennis coach, told a group of reporters.
The 11th-seeded Schwartzman has never made it to the final four at any Grand Slam tournament.
Seventh seed Thiem is the first Austrian to make a final at the majors since Thomas Muster was champion in Paris in 1995.
On his next match point, Nadal made a first serve that sent Schwartzman wide to the felt and followed with a forehand victor into the open court.
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