Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Ruthless Nadal crushes Del Potro to reach final

Tennis: Rafael Nadal reaches 11th French Open semifinal Del Potro powers past Cilic to set up Rafa clash
Lucia Summers | 08 June, 2018, 21:27

Rafael Nadal booked his spot in the 2018 French Open semi-finals as he completed a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 defeat of Argentina's Diego Schwartzman at Roland Garros on Thursday.

Nadal's streak of 37 consecutive set wins at Roland Garros ended Wednesday, but with victory the 32-year-old became only the third player in the Open era (since 1968) to reach 11 semifinals in the same grand slam.

Rafael Nadal extinguished the threat of Juan Martin del Potro to canter into another French Open final, where he will be seeking a record-extending 11th title. Dominic Thiem is an unbelievable player. Now I'm (in the) semi-finals, which means something great to me.

Croatian Cilic played an bad game when serving for the set but he was gifted another chance to serve for the set after breaking del Potro again and at the second time of asking he levelled the match.

However, he has fought back and reached his first semi-final at Roland Garros since 2009. That year, he came so close to beating Roger Federer-and that remains Federer's only Roland Garros crown. In the victory, Del Potro won 79 percent of his first serve points and 54 percent of his second serve points. I'm not interested in these things, I just play tennis.

He did not look unduly affected though and his heavy groundstrokes took a toll on Nadal who rescued three more break points in the ninth game.

The fifth seed, who stunned Roger Federer to win the 2009 US Open at the age of 20, said he never imagined that the likes of the 20-time Grand Slam champion and Nadal would still be standing in his path at major tournaments nearly a decade later.

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Juan Martin del Potro, absent from the French Open semifinals for nine years, will be his opponent in the last four.

Del Potro edged the early exchanges even though the scoreboard showed parity, testing Nadal on his service games and earning six break points as a result.

Could Thiem upstage Nadal?

Thiem is the only man to beat Nadal on clay in the last two seasons - in Madrid this year and Rome in 2017. Schwartzman, who hit 20 winners in the first set, had only 17 in the final three. "If I play defensively and I don't take intensity, I will be lost".

In 2016, Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing but an 18-month suspension was thrown out on a technicality. He missed the tournament every year from 2013-16 because of injuries, including three operations on his left wrist. At his 24th Grand Slam final on Sunday, he will face Dominic Thiem, who earlier defeated the Italian, Marco Cechhinato.

Someone in the stands cried out during his serve, disrupting his focus as he double faulted and handed Cilic a critical break for 5-4 in the second set.

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