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In youthful Dominic Thiem, Rafael Nadal faces a new French Open challenge

09 June 2018

Nadal has also won six of his last eight grand slam final appearances and is 10-0 in French Open final appearances.

Nadal avenged his defeat to the Swede at Roland Garros 12 months earlier.

Nadal, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, claimed his 85th win in Paris against just two losses after weathering a big-hitting opening from 2009 US Open victor Del Potro to win 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. His appetite was audible in the long, trailing groans of effort that echoed around the old concrete stadium. I believe I can be ready for that final. I know I have to play my best tennis to have a chance on Sunday. "Of course, the rain helped stop the match and helped me think about the match, and that's a reality".

The first semi-final was between Thiem and surprise semifinalist, Marco Cecchinato, and it was a hard fought match with the first two sets setting the court alight.

Rafael Nadal battled back from a set down to beat Diego Schwartzman 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in their rain-interrupted French Open quarterfinal on Thursday, edging closer to an 11th title in Paris. Again, Nadal finished the tournament without having dropped a set.

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"This extra thing I have to give, I feel I have it inside me, but I have to go and get it".

"It's his court, he has the keys and he has to take advantage of that", said Moya, referring to Nadal's track record at Philippe Chatrier stadium. He's 10-0 when he makes the finals. "And Nadal has been doing it for years and years and years".

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"If I'd won the second set I think it is totally different, the third set", he said. He's playing with big confidence.

The fifth seed, playing in his first Roland Garros semi-final in nine years, had three break points in the third game and three more in the ninth.

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His decision to enter a smaller tournament in Lyon, France, the week before Roland Garros - an event he won - doesn't appear to have sapped him.

The semi final victory over Juan Martin del Potro was marred by the Argentine needing to request his physiotherapist come onto the court to evaluate a hip injury.

He suffered a worrying power cut in the second set, slipping to 5-0 down on a double break, wasting his seventh break point out of seven on the way. The Italian succumbed quickly in the third set, sparing the French Open from a final in which his past match-fixing case would have been rehashed under a global spotlight. He is in the age of improvement.

Cecchinato brilliantly saved two break points at 2-2 in the second and continued to hold his own to reach a tie-break, where a series of sensational winners from both players saw Thiem let three successive set points slip. "He's one of the best players in the world on this surface", Nadal said.

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In youthful Dominic Thiem, Rafael Nadal faces a new French Open challenge