Del Potro overpowers Cilic, advances to French Open semis

Kristopher Nichols
June 13, 2018

Rafael Nadal insists he remains as motivated as ever to add another French Open crown to the 10 he already owns.

"Because if you stay behind the baseline against Dominic, he can take advantage of it", Toni Nadal said.

A fourth set point for Thiem vanished because of one of Cecchinato's many drop shots.

Cecchinato had never won a grand slam match until the French Open.

Thiem, who ended the Cinderella stint of Italy's Marco Cecchinato 7-5 7-6 (12-10) 6-1, is one of only three men to topple Nadal at least three times on the "terre battue".

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. The Spanish ace dropped the first set and was down 3-2 in the second before a rain break swung the momentum in his favour.

The world number one held serious discussions with coach Carlos Moyá in an intense session in the heat as he studiously went about his business.

Next up for Thiem is either Nadal, who is eyeing his 11th French Open title, or Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.

In the second-set tiebreaker Friday, Thiem went ahead 6-3, but missed out on three set points there, including a bad volley into the net at 6-4 that left him chewing ruefully on his left index finger.

Nadal said of his cramp: "I was very, very scared".

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"Forget the 10 (French Open titles) and forget what happened past year, Thiem has to remember what happened in Madrid which is a title Nadal wants to win nearly as much as the French", Wilander, Eurosport's chief analyst, told Reuters. That led to 34 winners (eight more than Nadal) but also 42 unforced errors (18 more than Nadal).

But Austrian Thiem will see this as a fantastic opportunity to reach a maiden Grand Slam final, after losing to Djokovic and Nadal at the semi-final stage in each of the last two years in Paris.

"Second thing, if you don't feel the pressure, it's because you don't love the sport", said Nadal, who has never failed to win the title in Paris after reaching the semi-finals.

That's only €100,000 more - just a 4.5 per cent rise - than last year's champions Rafael Nadal and Jelena Ostapenko collected.

Nadal will retain the world number one ranking if he wins - but that will be the last thing on his mind. He has won every final he has reached, and in those 11 finals he has dropped just six sets.

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.

A few hours earlier, as Nadal and Thiem warmed up, the booming voice of the announcer at Court Philippe Chatrier detailed the bona fides of both. Thiem withstood a barrage of break points to hold in a marathon sixth game, which he thought he had won at 40-30 when he left a wide ball, only for the umpire to overrule the line judge.

The 16th-seeded Gauff, who is 14 years old, beat 15th-seeded Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada 6-4, 6-3. Nadal had more trouble with another Argentine, the diminutive Diego Schwartzman, in the quarterfinals.

The women's doubles final is also Sunday.

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

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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