Third time the charm as Thiem books first Grand Slam final

Third time the charm as Thiem books first Grand Slam final

Third time the charm as Thiem books first Grand Slam final

Rafael Nadal improved to 11-0 in French Open semifinals as he seeks his 11th title at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament, saving all seven break points he faced and overwhelming 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

The Sicilian journeyman usually earns a living by playing in second-tier tournaments but over the past two weeks, the world number 72 looked like he belonged on the big stage as he knocked out seeds Pablo Carreno Busta, David Goffin and Novak Djokovic to reach the last four at Roland Garros. The French Open, like all Grand Slam tournaments, is best-of-five for men.

The world No. 8 made history of his own Friday, becoming the second Austrian male to advance to a grand slam final after the hard-nosed 1995 French Open champion, Thomas Muster.

Nadal won the pair's only previous two meetings at the French Open, including their semi-final clash past year, but Thiem is confident he can upset the world number one on Sunday. I'm not sure if Thiem and Rafa had a run in the Bois de Boulogne that Rafa would win.

Nadal will face Austrian Dominic Thiem for the championship on Sunday. He took the biggest of big cuts on groundstrokes, his feet leaving the ground as he threw his whole body into them, as if the very outcome - not of any individual point, but the whole shebang - depended on the strength of that one whip of his white racket.

The No. 1-ranked Nadal compiled a 35-20 edge in winners while making only 19 unforced errors Friday.

"When asked why he still felt stress before resuming on Thursday despite all of his past achievements, Nadal said: "(Because) I am a human person.

The Czech pair beat second-seeded Andrea Sestini Hlavackova and Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-2.

Just 45 percent of Thiem's first serves went in, compared to Nadal's 65 percent.

The 29-year-old missed the event for four straight years before a third-round loss in 2017, but has regained fitness in recent months and reached the semi-finals at the US Open last year, where he lost to Nadal.

Nadal has not lost at Roland Garros when taking the first set and that record did not look like coming under threat as he continually rebuffed Thiem's attempts to make inroads into his serve, taking the second courtesy of an early break.

He saved three break points before taking the game and set 6-2.

Nadal is looking as comfortable as ever on the Philippe Chatrier court where has previously won the title 10 times.

But Thiem showed resilience in getting two break points on Nadal's serve.

However‚ it was Del Potro who was in the ascendancy in the rallies in the first set. - Halep, after claiming her maiden Grand Slam title.

The 16th-seeded Gauff, who is 14 years old, beat 15th-seeded Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada 6-4, 6-3.

Nadal is now just the second man to reach 11 finals at the same Slam‚ equalling Roger Federer's mark at Wimbledon.

The Argentine has never beaten Nadal on clay.

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

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