Thursday, 16 August, 2018


Rafael Nadal eyes 11th French Open title as clock ticks

Rafael Nadal eyes 11th French Open title as clock ticks Rafael Nadal eyes 11th French Open title as clock ticks
Hannah Rogers | 09 June, 2018, 09:25

Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro said that he will have "nothing to lose" in his French Open semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal on Friday, after not even knowing whether he would play in the days before the tournament.

Rafael Nadal is coming off a straight sets win over Juan Martín del Potro that took 25 games to decide.

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. For me it's incredible. They came from non-ATP level matches, which is where the vast majority of tennis' corruption takes place, but corrupt behavior at the lower levels becomes a problem when those players graduate to the big time. It is nice to get the two best clay courters possible in Sunday's final. "But I'm also aware that here it's tougher", said Thiem, the first Austrian in a major final since Thomas Muster won in Paris in 1995. However, he was beaten in the most recent - the US Open semi-final a year ago - and has lost nine of their 14 matches overall.

Nadal is the hot favourite to win the second Grand Slam of the year, having dominated on the red clay since making his Roland Garros debut in 2005.

Ominously, perhaps, for Thiem, Nadal said: "I have to improve a little bit". "It may sound easy and logical, but I don't want it to be".

Nadal, by contrast, 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 the Argentinian netted.

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.

Nadal only dropped one point in the opening two games, going a double break up for a 4-1 lead.

Croatian Cilic played an terrible game when serving for the set, making four unforced errors, but he was gifted another chance to serve for the set after breaking Del Potro again and levelled the match at the second time of asking. "Of course, the rain helped stop the match and helped me think about the match, and that's a reality". I had a lot of break points.

The world number one, who lost the opening set 6-4 before rain intervened on Wednesday evening, roared back in impressive fashion. The vanquished del Potro acknowledged as much as he reflected on the brief stretch where he was able to put up some resistance to Nadal's unremitting intensity.

"He's been a very complex opponent". At 24, Thiem is playing his best tennis.

Del Potro will be playing in a Grand Slam semi-final for the fifth time when he steps onto Court Philippe Chatrier, with a place in the final against either surprise package Marco Cecchinato or Dominic Thiem up for grabs. The tall Argentine created six break point opportunities on the Mallorcan's serve, and faced none on his own in the first nine games.

Here is a full rundown of Friday's results and a closer look at how Nadal and Thiem set the stage for their French Open final encounter.

"That was definitely the key to the match", Cecchinato said.

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