Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

Del Potro directs frustration at Paris spectator

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Nicole Thomas | 09 June, 2018, 08:44

But an 85-2 win-loss record like Nadal's in Paris is not something easy to shake.

The world No 1 faces Del Potro who has made the last-four for the first time in nine years. His appetite was audible in the long, trailing groans of effort that echoed around the old concrete stadium.

Ominously, perhaps, for Thiem, Nadal said: "I have to improve a little bit". When I'm serving, should be in my hands but I gave too many chances to him to have the break. "And in the end, I got it, and now I'm having a great present, looking forward for the future".

Del Potro certainly has a game big enough to trouble anyone when he's on song - even Nadal - so it's really a question of how much he has left in the tank after playing close to four hours across two days against Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals. "Best of five is also a different story". "But I think he's very enthusiastic".

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

Cecchinato will make it interesting if he's able to play the way he did against Djokovic, but I think Dominic Thiem reaches his first grand slam final.

Nadal seldom leaves the door cracked very long.

"It's tough to speak now", del Potro said. The Argentinian had forced six break points during the first set but each time Nadal fended them off. Nadal had not had a sniff on Del Potro's serve until, at 5-4, two swishes of his forehand forced two set points, the second of which he converted when Del Potro netted.

After dropping the opening set of his first round match he won the next 12. "It was very hard to stop that", Nadal told reporters.

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"Once he gets ahead in the match, his confidence gets back", said Moya, the 1998 French Open champion.

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

I'm sticking to my guns in saying the world's second-best clay courter is a 36-year-old Swiss who opted not to play in this event, but Thiem's run to the final has cemented his status as the second-best clay court player who competed here.

There have, however, appeared to be one or two chinks in his armour at Roland Garros this year. Thiem's 35 match-wins this year are the most of any man on the circuit.

Rafael Nadal became just the second man in the Open Era to reach 11 finals at a single Grand Slam on Friday, matching Roger Federer's total.

This was the No. 5-seeded del Potro's first semifinal at Roland Garros since 2009.

Del Potro would recover to win the match, 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5. 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's never been there before, it's a big surprise but he didn't fall into the semi-finals, he beat David Goffin and Novak Djokovic and he has played really well", he said.

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