Del Potro can be a "nightmare" for Nadal - Wilander

Rafael Nadal celebrates a point against Juan Martin Del Potro in the French Open semifinals on June 8.
Cameron Spencer  
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Halep, who assured herself of retaining the No. 1 ranking with the victory, earned a fourth chance to win her first major title. "Nadal in four sets".

The battle wore on and on, before, on the Austrian's fifth set point, Cecchinato went long to fall two sets behind.

"The big key was the second set", he said.

"It is nearly impossible to beat Rafa", said Del Potro who had his chances in the semi-final but failed to convert any of his seven break points before his challenge petered out into tired hopelessness. It was his 45th career clay-court title.

Nadal will be now up against Dominic Thiem in the French Open final 2018.

Nadal raised his level when it mattered much and fended off three break points in the eighth game.

-Tennis Channel Plus features up to 10 courts of live action from Roland Garros beginning Sunday, May 27 at 5:00am ET. "But I will not give [it to] him, '" Nadal said.

The world No. 8 made history of his own Friday, becoming the second Austrian male to advance to a grand slam final after the hard-nosed 1995 French Open champion, Thomas Muster.

Anticipating the challenge of Nadal, Thiem earlier spoke of having devised a plan in case he meets him in the finals. In the fourth game Friday, del Potro clutched at his left hip after being wrong-footed by one shot from Nadal and was visited by a doctor at the next changeover, but said afterward it was not a big deal.

If Nadal's march toward an 11th championship at Roland Garros was going to be stopped on this day, things were going to have to go del Potro's way right then.

Dominic Thiem celebrates his semifinal victory over Marco Cecchinato at the French Open on June 8.
Matthew Stockman  
Getty Images
Dominic Thiem celebrates his semifinal victory over Marco Cecchinato at the French Open on June 8. Matthew Stockman Getty Images

The first set had taken 57 minutes, in stiflingly humid conditions, but there was to be no let-up for the underdog in the second.

"I think that was my chance of the match. Facing Rafa, I'm not the one who has the pressure".

"For me, the motivation to play here always is high, high as possible". Del Potro is going to his second French Open semifinal and his first since 2009. 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. Still, I know how to play against him. Applying this to Sunday's final, we might expect to see three or four sets, but are less likely to see five.

Otherwise, he stayed steady in a 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 3 Marin Cilic in a matchup between two past U.S. Open champions.

"And if he would have won the tiebreak, he would be full power, for sure, in the third set". There may be some shocking results over two sets, but three are different.

The 10-time champion needed a downpour on Wednesday evening to rescue him from a deluge of break points, five of which were converted by tricky Argentinian Diego Schwartzman.

The record for the clay-court Grand Slam tournament was Bjorn Borg's 41-set winning streak from 1978-81.

"But let's not get ahead of ourselves since there is a final to be played on Sunday, and Dominic Thiem has done enough in the last couple of years to establish himself as an accomplished clay court player".

Schwartzman had a point to lead 4-2 but a forehand error allowed Nadal off the hook. However, the Spaniard has won both their clashes at Roland Garros - in 2014 and in last year's semi-finals by a comfortable 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 margin.

"Could he beat Nadal in the final, probably not, but Nadal is not guaranteed to get to the final".

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