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Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Nadal eyes 11th French Open title as clock ticks

Nadal eyes 11th French Open title as clock ticks

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. Both men knew that full well.

This was the No. 5-seeded del Potro's first semifinal at Roland Garros since 2009.

Rafael Nadal is now just the second man to reach 11 finals at the same Slam, equalling Roger Federer's mark at Wimbledon. He doesn't cede a thing and he doesn't let up.

Argentine Del Potro often had Nadal in trouble in a ferocious first set but paid heavily for failing to convert any of the six break points that came his way at 1-1 and 4-4.

Thiem survived two tough sets against Marco Cecchinato before cruising through the third for a 7-5, 7-6, 6-1 success.

"I'm feeling so, so happy to make the right decision to play here". That crucial early juncture altered the course of things, though. So I have nothing to lose tomorrow.

"If I lost that tie-break it would have been a very close match and I didn't want that".

"And when I was able to change that, I was able to win the game and the match. I don't feel the pressure now in semifinals", Nadal said. "I was so nervous before the match because I knew it would be a tough match".

Truth is, there were not many the rest of the way, as Nadal finished with 35 winners and just 19 unforced errors.

However, the 29-year-old was unable to capitalise and Nadal made him pay in the 10th game when he claimed the opener off a netted backhand. Because being No. 1 without a Grand Slam, I always said, is not like everything, not 100 percent.

"He's been a very complex opponent, and one of the best players in the world on this surface".

Too good for almost everyone, nearly every time, on clay.

She will meet current U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens after the 25-year-old world No. 10 dismissed compatriot Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4, in a repeat of last year's American major final in NY. "I will play my game against (Stephens) as I did past year", Halep said. The 24-year-old ousted the world number one from Madrid Open 2018, a year after beating him in straight sets at Rome Masters.

Cecchinato is bidding to become the first Italian to reach a men's final at a Grand Slam tournament since Adriano Panatta won the title in Paris 42 years ago. Stephens won last year's U.S. Open; Halep is 0-3 in major finals.

Plenty have gone in with sound tactical plans against the 16-times Grand Slam champion in Paris but when the forehand bombardment begins, the best-laid plans usually fall apart as was the case in Friday's semi-final when Nadal thrashed Juan Martin del Potro who many thought posed a credible threat.

Cecchinato, who was banned for match-fixing in 2016, had never won a match in the French Open prior to this year's edition.

Schwartzman provided a blueprint of how Nadal might possibly be beaten on Wednesday as he hit 20 winners and earned nine break points in the opening set.

Thiem sent Cecchinato scurrying around the court before breaking decisively for a 6-5 lead with a lovely forehand victor. Thiem got to 10-all with a drop shot of his own.

Rafael Nadal admits that his desire to clinch an 11th French Open title on Sunday is fired by his growing realisation that the end of his career may not be too far away.

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