Third time the charm as Thiem books first Grand Slam final

Sherman Parsons
June 13, 2018

Austria's Dominic Thiem set up a French Open final with 10-time champion Rafael Nadal today after both players won their respective semi-finals in straight sets at Roland Garros.

More prize money is up for grabs than ever before at this year's French Open but it remains the least lucrative of the four Grand Slams for players to win.

Nadal‚ a 16-time Grand Slam champion‚ claimed his 85th win in Paris against just two losses after weathering a big-hitting opening from 2009 US Open victor Del Potro to win 6-4‚ 6-1‚ 6-2.

In his on-court speech after Nadal's 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory, the 24-year-old Thiem said: "I still remember when you won here the first time, 2005".

Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka in the 2017 French Open. "Here with Federer. It's awesome for the tennis, the tennis world".

Thiem's ability to bully opponents from the baseline was on display in his 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 victory over No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals.

Marco Cecchinato has dropped his first service game against seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem in their French Open semifinal.

Beating Nadal on the red dirt is one of the toughest jobs in tennis and a resurgent del Potro will be taking the challenge when the two stars meet in the much-anticipated tie Philippe-Chatrier on Friday.

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.

Nadal is 49-0 in all other clay-court contests over the past two seasons.

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

Had Cecchinato not tightened in the second set, when he held three set points, it might have been a different result. I'm not sure if Thiem and Rafa had a run in the Bois de Boulogne that Rafa would win. 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.

"I know how to play against him", he said, without elaborating.

Rafael Nadal takes a 10-0 French Open semifinal record into his matchup at Roland Garros against 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.

"The big key was the second set‚" he said.

"Otherwise, it's not a very nice feeling".

But once he squandered that chance against Thiem, the Italian ended up falling to a 7-5 7-6 (10) 6-1 defeat.

"It was a really close tiebreak and I didn't want that especially after I missed an easy volley at 6/4. Being in a final here is something I should rejoice about and be happy about", he said.

At long last, Thiem converted his fifth set point when Cecchinato sent a forehand long. Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months in 2016, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality.

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