• Nadal strolls into 11th French Open final

    Rafael Nadal
    Rafael Nadal

    Defending champion Rafael Nadal beat Juan-Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 to reach his 11th final at Roland-Garros. JUANDRE JOUBERT reports.

    After incurring a hip problem in just the third game of the match, it always looked like Del Potro’s challenge wouldn’t last long against Nadal.

    The Spaniard, who has never lost on the Paris clay after reaching the semi-finals, didn’t have it all his own way in the first. He had to save three break points in the third and again in the ninth. Del Potro failed to take those chances and Nadal finally made him pay in the 10th game by breaking and taking the set 6-4.

    Nadal broke the Argentinian’s serve twice at the beginning of the second set to take a 5-0 lead in a ruthless display. Nadal had two chances to wrap up the set in the sixth game, but Del Potro finally got on the board by holding serve. Nadal then wrapped up the second set on his serve to take a two-set lead.

    After winning 31 out of a possible 47 points in the second set, Nadal continued his domination by winning 25 out of 40 points in the third. Nadal never took his foot off the accelerator as he broke in the first and again in the fifth for a 4-1 lead. Three games later, he celebrated going through to his 11th Roland-Garros final by punching the air.

    The man who will try and do the impossible of stopping Nadal in the final will be Dominic Thiem.

    Thiem brought an end to the fairytale that was Marco Cecchinato after defeating the Italian 7-5, 7-6 (10), 1-6 to reach his first Grand Slam final.

    Thiem set the tempo early, breaking in the opening game of the match. Although Cecchinato broke back in the eighth game, he handed one right back and went on to lose the first set 7-5.

    The second was a tight affair that saw no breaks of serve. The tie-break saw both men have multiple set points, but Thiem came out on top to take a two-set lead.

    The third was the exact opposite, as Thiem broke twice to seal his place in the final against the King of Clay.

    Photo: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

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