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

Rex Christensen
June 12, 2018

Nadal, 31, becomes the first man in history to win the same major 10 times.

It was a very different story when the contest resumed on Thursday in drier conditions as Nadal won 12 of the first 13 points before cruising into the last four.

He still occasionally inconvenienced the reigning champion, not least when a deft drop shot brought up a point to break back at 2-4.

"He's a big favorite against anybody", Thiem said of Nadal. Nadal racked up 18 winners in the fourth set to capture the match, ultimately overpowering Schwartzman. And he set up a French Open final that, pardon the cliché, is a worthy clash between the king of clay and the man hailed as the prince.

Juan Martin del Potro has confronted a spectator sitting in Court Suzanne Lenglen after he hit a double-fault to drop his serve at a crucial moment against Marin Cilic.

Dabrowski also won the French Open mixed doubles past year, but with Rohan Bopanna of India as her partner.

Thiem has certainly been the second-best player on clay over the last two seasons.

The Spaniard has never lost a final at Roland Garros with his win-loss record on Parisian Clay being 85-2.

Ominously, perhaps, for Thiem, Nadal said: "I have to improve a little bit".

On Friday, del Potro was by far the better player in the first set while, in the quarter-finals, Diego Schwartzman won the first set.

Friday will be the second time Nadal and Del Potro meet at Roland Garros. It puts them in an uncomfortable position since the start - they lose the first set and immediately think "oh, there's no way I can get three sets now, I'm not physically strong enough to do it". "So I need more work for go top 10 or top 20, so these matches was very important for me".

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"I couldn't find the right person", del Potro said, laughing about the incident.

"I lost three times until now and no one died, so it will be OK."- Halep, commenting on whether she's anxious about losing a fourth straight major final.

Nadal did not have almost as hard a time against the fifth-seeded del Potro.

Top-ranked Simona Halep will have another shot in the French Open final.

He was inconvenienced by a couple of break points as he served for the third set with 11th seed Schwarztman, a 5ft 7in live wire, refusing to go away quietly. But I knew that Rafa was going to play from worse to better and, if I was not able to win the first set, the match would be as it was.

His huge serve helped him to save set points too and he finally gained the upper hand to take a two-set lead.

The Argentine was a break down in the third but turned it around as the errors started to creep in for Cilic, who was bidding to reach the last four for the first time here after falling in the quarter-finals a year ago. Coincidentally, the only time he has looked in any danger was on day 11 when Diego Schwartzman, the 11th seed, took the only set of the tournament off him.

Nevertheless, Cecchinato can look back on a breakthrough tournament - he had never won a match at a grand slam before beating Marius Copil 10-8 in the fifth set last week.

Thiem's massive forehand allowed him to race into a 5-2 lead in the tiebreak. It was part of a run in which he claimed 14 of the last 17 games to overwhelm the No. 5-seeded del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 and earn yet another spot in the title match at Court Philippe Chatrier.

Stephens beat Keys in last year's U.S. Open final.

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