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

13 June, 2018, 08:46 | Author: Greg Lawrence
  • The fifth seed has now beaten Cilic eight times in a row but on Friday he will face arguably the toughest test in tennis when he takes on 10-time champion Nadal for a place in the final

Cecchinato, who had not won a match in five attempts at a Grand Slam before Roland Garros, fought valiantly against the number seven seed but ultimately the Austrian's star quality shone through to reach his first major final.

Thiem, who beat Nadal in Madrid this season, Rome a year ago and in Buenos Aires on clay in 2016, trails 3-6 in the pair's head-to-head.

Dominic Thiem reached the French Open final at the third time of asking, potentially setting up a crunch clash with Rafael Nadal.

"The second-set tiebreak was the big key to the match, 100 per cent, because obviously he felt all the matches from these two weeks after that", the seventh seed said. "He beat me in Madrid, he has big power so I have to be at my best and improve", said Nadal.

Clay specialist Thiem made the last four at Roland Garros in both 2016 and 2017 but fell short against eventual winners Novak Djokovic and Nadal, continuing his wait for a first grand slam final. I expect that he will be a really good player on clay. "I believe I can be ready for that final". But after the loss, I go a little bit down mentally and physically. He pounded huge serves that topped 135 miles per hour (220 kph) - about 25 miles per hour (40 kph) better than Nadal's fastest - and translated into seven aces but also had five double-faults. Nadal had more trouble with another Argentine, the diminutive Diego Schwartzman, in the quarterfinals.

"That", del Potro would say later, "was my chance".

Nadal becomes the second player in tennis history to win 11 singles titles at any Grand Slam tournament after Margaret Court, who claimed 11 Australian Open titles.

Nadal said of his cramp: "I was very, very scared".

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".

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Surely, so did del Potro. The last one in US Open I lost against Rafa.

Federer, who has skipped the French Open, has reached 11 Wimbledon finals, winning eight. He impressively recovered from a slow start to make the first set close.

The No. 6-seeded pairing from the Czech Republic beat Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya of Japan 6-3, 6-3 on Sunday.

Cecchinato was understandably deflated - the third set lasted a mere 24 minutes - and Thiem officially booked his spot in the final, to his mother's delight. Thiem beat Marco Cecchinato 7-5, 7-6, 6-1 in his semifinal matchup.

"I can not believe it now", Karin Thiem, a tennis coach, told a group of reporters.

"The first set was very hard, there were lots of opportunities for Juan Martin del Potro and I was perhaps a little lucky to win it", Nadal said afterwards. So it was good for me that I won it...

The smile never left her face.

The top seed would have been delighted to return in his favoured hot conditions after the gloom of the night before, and a hasty end looked in sight when Nadal opened up a 4-1 third-set lead with a double break courtesy of a booming forehand followed by the cutest of drop shots.

He concluded, however, by saying: "It's not easy. It was nearly impossible to beat Nadal".

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