Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Sports | By Juana Wells

Nadal, Thiem battle for French Open title

Nadal, Thiem battle for French Open title

Nadal dealt with that ultimately minor inconvenience and claimed his record-extending 11th French Open championship Sunday by displaying his foe-rattling excellence in a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem.

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.

Nadal's latest triumph in Paris sees him join Margaret Court, who dominated the Australian Open in the 1960s and 70s, as the only player to win 11 singles titles at one grand slam. Thiem beat Marco Cecchinato 7-5, 7-6, 6-1 in his semifinal matchup.

If there were any reason for a bit of intrigue entering Sunday, it was this: Thiem beat Nadal on red clay at Rome in May 2017 and again at Madrid last month.

"I have lost a lot of opportunities through injuries, and I know the years are going quick".

In the second-set tiebreaker Friday, Thiem went ahead 6-3, but missed out on three set points there, including a bad volley into the net at 6-4 that left him chewing ruefully on his left index finger.

He said: "If I had won the second set, I think it would have been a totally different third set".

Wilander believes Thiem can worry Nadal if he is prepared to "take risks" like Diego Schwartzman did in the quarter-finals when he snapped the left-hander's run of 37 consecutive completed sets won at the French Open by snatching the opener.

But once he squandered that chance against Thiem, the Italian ended up falling to a 7-5 7-6 (10) 6-1 defeat. I know I have to play my best tennis to have a chance on Sunday. "I have a plan".

True, he was obliterated by Nadal in the semi-final 12 months ago but Thiem has added more aggression to his natural claycourt weapons, specifically the forehand, as he displayed when stunning Nadal in the Madrid quarter-final. "I couldn't make it", del Potro said.

By then, Nadal was finding his spots. So when I had the chances, I just tried to convert. After guzzling water during that break, Nadal felt better and was back to playing his unmistakable brand of almost unbeatable clay-court tennis. "He beat me in Madrid, he has big power so I have to be at my best and improve", said Nadal. So there was mild concern when Nadal called for the trainer midway through a game, requiring treatment on what looked like cramp in his hand.

While Thiem faces an nearly impossible task on Sunday, Nadal was taking nothing for granted against the man who beat him in Madrid.

On Friday, he was on par with seventh seed Dominic Thiem for two sets and even had set points to level the contest at one-set all. "That was not a nice feeling". Stephens won last year's U.S. Open; Halep is 0-3 in major finals. He then crushed a tired looking Zverev 6-4 6-2 6-1 before halting the fairy tale run of Cecchinato 7-6 7-6 6-1.

Thiem saved a first breakpoint in that game but couldn't save the second, hitting a forehand wide.

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