Rafael Nadal Beats Diego Schwartzman, Advances to 2018 French Open Semis

Rafa Nadal is a set down

Rafa Nadal is a set down

Paris: Ten-time champion Rafael Nadal reached his 11th French Open final on Friday when he demolished Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets, setting up a title showdown with Dominic Thiem, the only man to defeat him on clay in the last two years.

But the Spaniard was impressive on Friday, finishing with 35 winners and 19 unforced errors to Del Potro's analysis of 20 and 32.

Play resumed with the towering fifth and third seeds locked at 5-5 in the first set tiebreak and del Potro needed only two points to pocket the first set on Thursday.

Nadal tightened his grip, going to 5-1 on another double break in the third set and sealed the match when Del Potro hit a backhand long.

Nadal or Del Potro's opponent will be known in advance of their match, with Marco Cecchinato's run from nowhere seeing him take on Dominic Thiem in the other semi-final.

Nadal wrapped up that set by winning the first two points played Thursday and he was on his way, never relenting.

A superb backhand crosscourt pass helped Nadal to make the crucial break and with it wrap up the opening set in 54 minutes, but what followed was a procession as Del Potro struggled to contain his frustrations at missing crucial chances to establish a lead.

"I don't have any obligation to win, first thing". The third quickly disappeared as well and Cecchinato had set points of his own, but Thiem finally put the Italian away before going on to win 7-5, 7-6, 6-1.

In 2016, Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality. Having squandered one set point, he went in for a simple backhand volley victor only to dump it into the net.

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But Nadal's domination on the Roland Garros clay, where his record now stands at 85-2, is without equal and he will be a huge favourite to beat Grand Slam final debutant Thiem.

"I know I have to play my best, I have to improve a little bit".

Thiem is not only trying to overcome Nadal's massive psychological and experiential edge in his first-ever Grand Slam event final, but attempting to join an elite club of men who have elbowed their way into the Big Four's monopoly on major titles over the last 10 years.

- Is playing in the semi-finals for the first time since 2009 after years of injury woe.

"It's very important to regenerate now", Thiem said.

Thiem weathered three set points for Cecchinato, at 7-6, 9-8 and 10-9.

Nadal giving up a 6.5 game head start is [1.74] on the Exchange, and I'd expect this to rise by several ticks as the market forms in the run-up to the match, and I'm quite happy to look at this as a more viable proposition.

Sloane Stephens' clash with Madison Keys represented a rematch of the 2017 US Open final, which Stephens won.

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