Rafael Nadal eyes 11th French Open title as clock ticks

Rafael Nadal eyes 11th French Open title as clock ticks

Nadal, 32, won 6-4 6-1 6-2 to set up a meeting with Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem in Sunday's final.

But Paris, to tweak the title of Ernest Hemingway's famous love letter to the city, has been a predictable feast for Nadal.

Del Potro was in the semi-finals for the first time since he recovered from three years of injury problems that made him contemplate quitting the sport. His appetite was audible in the long, trailing groans of effort that echoed around the old concrete stadium.

Nadal was serving at 5-3, 30-15 after having dropped the first set when play was stopped. "Still, I know how to play against him". "But I get closer to them, just asking who was it?"

The No. 7-seeded Thiem reached the first Grand Slam final of his career by ending the surprising run of 72nd-ranked Marco Cecchinato of Italy at Roland Garros with a powerful performance in a 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1 victory Friday. He'll need to play more polished if he's to play the veteran Nadal, but Thiem has the potential. "I think if I'm facing Rafa, I'm not the one who has the pressure".

Charmingly, despite Nadal's accomplishments, he's still prone to nerves when he steps on center court here.

This time, Thiem instead faced Cecchinato, who never had won a Grand Slam match until this tournament and was the lowest-ranked men's semifinalist at the clay-court major in 19 years.

Nadal seldom leaves the door cracked very long. The second set like, the first was dominated by serve until Cilic fired himself up to break at 4-4 - a furious Del Potro throwing his racket at the changeover.

After dropping the first two sets he played in the opening round, Cecchinato came back to win that match in five sets, then proceeded to string together upsets. Nadal has won 11 straight matches on clay court.

But that was only after Nadal had allowed him just two games in a last-eight mauling in Monte Carlo.

His record at Roland Garros now stands at 85 wins and two defeats. Thiem's 35 match-wins this year are the most of any man on the circuit.

Over the past two seasons, Nadal is 49-2 on red clay, with both losses coming against Thiem: in the quarterfinals at Rome in May 2017, and the quarterfinals at Madrid in May 2018.

Nadal is only the third male player in the Open era to reach 11 semifinals at a single Grand Slam, alongside Roger Federer (Australian Open, 14; Wimbledon 12) and Jimmy Connors (US Open, 14; Wimbledon, 11).

The unheralded Cecchinato simply being here is freaky for a number of reasons, not least his 10-8 final set success over Marius Copil in the first round, a match which lasted nearly four hours.

The pivotal part of the match was the second-set tiebreaker.

"Not a very nice feeling", Thiem said. Thiem has been in complete control of every match this tournament and is playing some of his most consistent tennis of his life, as he's now in the final for the third time in his last four events.