Monday, 10 December, 2018

Nadal thumps Del Potro to ease into French Open final against Thiem

Juan Martin del Potro serves against Marin Cilic Juan Martin del Potro serves against Marin Cilic Credit AFP
Herman Weaver | 09 June, 2018, 08:46

Moya admits that nerves accounted for Nadal losing the opening set against Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals on Wednesday - before rain suspended play until the following day - as well as the tight opening set the world No. 1 contested against Juan Martin del Potro in Friday's semis.

While Thiem faces an nearly impossible task on Sunday, Nadal was taking nothing for granted against the man who beat him in Madrid.

The fifth-seeded del Potro fought back tears and was loudly cheered by fans at Court Suzanne Lenglen as he advanced to the French Open semifinals for the first time since 2009, when he lost to Federer.

Del Potro has served 53 aces to reach the semi-final and his forehand, a stroke that could chop down trees, worries the very best as he showed by beating Roger Federer at last year's U.S. Open and winning the Indian Wells title in March. He lost at this stage to eventual champions Novak Djokovic in 2016 and Rafael Nadal in 2017.

Nadal giving up a 6.5 game head start is [1.74] on the Exchange, and I'd expect this to rise by several ticks as the market forms in the run-up to the match, and I'm quite happy to look at this as a more viable proposition.

Nadal raced away with 14 of the last 17 games.

The players only managed another 20 minutes on court before more rain forced them off for the night, but it was enough for momentum to switch in Nadal's favour.

"It's been a long time without a good feeling with my body", an emotional Del Potro said in an on-court interview. "That's why I got angry with someone".

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On Monday, Nadal will face No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem, a 24-year-old Austrian who reached his first Grand Slam final by ending the surprising run of 72nd-ranked Marco Cecchinato of Italy 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1.

While Thiem is a heavy favourite, Cecchinato, 25, will be completely unafraid, Wilander believes. That said, Thiem has already been at a high level for a long time and he'll be used to this situation.

The 29-year-old set up a clash with 10-time champion Rafael Nadal.

But first he must step into the unknown. However, I said that I'd be shocked if Cecchinato defeated Djokovic, and he managed that feat, so the Italian clay-courter can not be completely written off in advance.

"I couldn't find the right person", a smiling del Potro said after the match. But he is becoming tactically more correct and five sets will suit him. "And in my opinion, the match changed", Nadal said. "The pressure is 95 percent on him". He was also able to raise his level when in danger, saving three break points in the eighth game of the third set with great shot-making, and four more in the final set.

The helplessness of the victims whom Nadal had vanquished at Roland Garros this year was rendered by Del Potro in the penultimate game of the second set.

Thiem has beaten Nadal on clay in each of the past two seasons, including just a few weeks ago on clay in Madrid, so that will certainly boost his confidence.

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