Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Rafael Nadal's French Open set streak ends in quarterfinals

Rafael Nadal's French Open set streak ends in quarterfinals WATCH: Del Potro directs frustration at Paris spectator
Sergio Cook | 10 June, 2018, 13:27

Both men are at stages in their career that have previously been points of great decline for the greats who came before them.

"He's too strong. He's improving his backhand a lot".

That Rafael Nadal would reach a record 11th French Open semi-final, closing in on his 11th championship at Roland Garros, was hardly surprising.

The 10-time Roland Garros champion was second-best in the first set, but the powerful Del Potro was unable to claim a solitary break as he was thrashed 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 on a glorious Friday in Paris.

The No. 1-seeded Spaniard, who has lost just one set in his march to the final, will look to capture a record-extending 11th title - and 17th major overall - on Court Philippe-Chatrier against Dominic Thiem on Sunday. Thiem beat Marco Cecchinato 7-5, 7-6, 6-1 in his semifinal matchup.

While we have an edge here, I appreciate that backing a heavy odds-on shot isn't most people's cup of tea, so the game handicap should be a viable proposition. "I have a plan".

When del Potro avoided a bagel in the sixth game of the second, he raised his arms in celebration. I'm going to play Wimbledon, of course, and then I will have to analyse the situation afterwards, when I will be ready to play.

"For sure, I can take some things off that", Thiem said. If he wins the game, OK.

But the Spaniard was impressive on Friday, finishing with 35 winners and 19 unforced errors to Del Potro's analysis of 20 and 32. Injuries have hampered the King of Clay throughout the past year.

"He's a big favorite against anybody", Thiem said of Nadal.

"He's the big favourite against everybody and still I know how to play against him", Thiem said.

"I need to regenerate and have a good breakfast to keep up my good level".

Too good for almost everyone, nearly every time, on clay. It was the first time in three years that Nadal had dropped a set in Paris. That "plan" has worked for him in the past - he is the only man to have defeated Nadal on clay in the last two years. I know I have to play at my best.

Though the sports are so different, Nadal's dominance in the past two weeks - and stretching back to his US Open title in 2017 - bring to mind how sensational LeBron James has been for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season.

In Saturday's women's final, No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania will face No. 10 Sloane Stephens of the United States.

The seventh seed, the first Austrian man to reach a Grand Slam final since Thomas Muster triumphed at Roland Garros in 1995, will take on either Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro or 10-times champion Rafael Nadal.

In 2016, Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality.

Thiem went for the jugular in the third set and after racing to a 4-0 lead in double quick, he finished off the job to reach his first Grand Slam final.

"He's been a very complex opponent, and one of the best players in the world on this surface".

This time, however, he lost it 12/10 despite having three set points. "Although he can lose matches, but the way he plays suits clay courts very well".

Thiem sent Cecchinato scurrying around the court before breaking decisively for a 6-5 lead with a lovely forehand victor.

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