Rafael Nadal beats del Potro, faces Thiem for No. 11

Rafael Nadal beats del Potro, faces Thiem for No. 11

Rafael Nadal beats del Potro, faces Thiem for No. 11

Paris: Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal on Friday outclassed Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro to storm into his record 11th final of the French Open with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win in the men's semi-final clash.

Only two players have managed to beat Nadal at the French Open since he first bounded into Roland Garros in 2005 armed with a bulging left bicep, pirate trousers and a pulverising brand of claycourt tennis the like of which had not been seen before.

In greenback terms that comes out at $2.6m, making it the smallest winner's prize of the year's four Grand Slam events and almost $1m less than the richest tournament the US Open which paid its 2017 winners - Nadal and Sloane Stephens - $3.7m each.

While Thiem beat Marco Cecchinato in first semi-final to reach his first Grand Slam final.

Nadal is 6-3 all-time against Thiem, but the Austrian has beaten the Spaniard twice on clay in the last 13 months: Once at Rome in 2017 and again in Madrid earlier this season, with the latter ending a 21-match and 50-set win streak on clay for Nadal.

Rafael Nadal extinguished the threat of Juan Martin del Potro to canter into another French Open final, where he will be seeking a record-extending 11th title.

Only three times (once when he withdrew with an injury) has the Mallorcan not reached the French Open final since he first re-defined claycourt tennis in 2005 as a sleeveless warrior.

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.

"Thiem is an unbelievable player".

He added: "I want to work more to go top 20".

"But I'm also aware that here it's tougher", said Thiem, the first Austrian in a major final since Thomas Muster won in Paris in 1995.

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

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Del Potro had required the doctor early in the first set after appearing to jar his ankle in the red clay.

The three-hour and 50-minute match, which put Del Potro in the French Open's last-four for the second time in his career, was suspended on Wednesday due to the weather, reported Efe.

The second set tie-break proved to be decisive as the Italian player squandered three set points, having recovered from a 6-3 deficit, reports Efe.

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

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

"It was not a very nice feeling", Thiem said.

Cecchinato had never won a Grand Slam match before this year's Roland Garros but made the semis with a string of stunning wins.

Del Potro will be his opponent on Friday after eliminating No. 3 seed Marin Cilic 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 to make into the semifinals for the first time since 2009.

The 25-year-old was banned for match-fixing in 2016, a penalty overturned on appeal.

"Today‚ all day‚ on Philippe Chatrier‚ the fans said "Forza‚ Marco"‚ so I think this is the best moment for me‚" said Cecchinato.

At long last, Thiem converted his fifth set point when Cecchinato sent a forehand long.

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