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Nadal beats del Porto, advances to final

13 June 2018

Robin Soderling, who famously inflicted Nadal's first defeat at the French Open in 2009, insists Thiem has to take the initiative from the start.

Going into the final at Roland Garros, Thiem's prospects of winning his first grand slam will be boosted as he is the only player to beat Nadal on clay twice (in 2017 and 2018).

"Thiem is an animal physically and in terms of hitting the ball hard on the forehand".

Del Potro saved one but a backhand error handed Nadal the set and he never took a backward glance after that. But, sure, a little hope. That win ended Nadal's 21-match winning streak on clay and his streak of 50 straight sets won on his favorite surface.

Rafael Nadal is into yet another French Open final.

He said: "What you did and what you're doing it's one of the most awesoming things that (an) athlete ever achieved in sports, to win this tournament 11 times". The way he competes is unbelievable.

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Ten times he has lifted La Coupe des Mousquetaires and the "King of Clay" has looked as hungry as ever to retain his crown during yet another dominant run to an unprecedented 11th title in the French capital.

"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.

Thiem has been to the semifinals in Paris three years in a row, but he lost to eventual champions Novak Djokovic in 2016, then Nadal in 2017. Those conditions might have contributed to the cramping that affected Nadal about two hours into the final, at 2-1 in the third set. On the second, Thiem defeated Nadal 7-5, 6-3.

At least Thiem has in the past found the key to unravelling the Nadal clay court enigma. "So I can't think about that".

Thiem's ability to bully opponents from the baseline was on display in his 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 victory over No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals.

Nadal becomes the second player in tennis history to win 11 singles titles at any Grand Slam tournament after Margaret Court, who claimed 11 Australian Open titles. Now he's made it a step further. "He has the power".

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Thiem was on the couch, watching on TV, in 2005, when Nadal earned his first Grand Slam trophy in Paris at age 19.

So nerves could come into play in the early going against Nadal, who will be bidding for his 17th major title overall.

"What will be important will be to try and make him play in uncomfortable situations", said Moya, the 1998 French Open champion.

In the second-set tiebreaker on 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. "Once he is running, he is not that unsafe".

Dominic Thiem bemoaned his four weeks of military service in 2014 as a "pain in the a**e" when asked whether it stood him in good stead to play at the highest level.

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Nadal beats del Porto, advances to final