Del Potro has ‘nothing to lose’ against ‘king of clay’ Nadal

Juan Martin del Potro serves against Marin Cilic

So if anyone could head into the French Open final with even the slightest reason to think there's a chance of preventing Nadal from winning a record-extending 11th championship at Roland Garros, it is his opponent Sunday.

He saved three break points in his first service game but a wayward backhand ensured Nadal took the fourth.

Leading the tiebreak 6-3, he was powerless as Cecchinato claimed the following four points to earn the first of three set points.

"If he would have won the tie-break, he would (have been) full power, for sure, in the third set".

Nadal is bidding to become only the second player to win 11 titles at any Grand Slam tournament after Margaret Court, who won the Australian women's singles title 11 times.

Seventh seed Thiem, who will be playing in his first grand slam final, is regarded as second only to Nadal on clay - albeit probably quite a distant second. After serving a fault, Nadal took the unusual step of heading to the sideline in the middle of a game.

The Czech pair beat second-seeded Andrea Sestini Hlavackova and Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-2.

Nadal won the first set 6-4.

Thiem reached his first grand slam final at Roland Garros with a comfortable defeat of Marco Cecchinato, meaning he will face Nadal after the 10-time victor swept aside Juan Martin del Potro in the second semi-final.

The 32-year-old Spaniard is also vying for his 17th major trophy, which would move him within three of Roger Federer. But after the loss, I go a little bit down mentally and physically.

The three-hour and 50-minute match, which put Del Potro in the French Open's last-four for the second time in his career, was suspended on Wednesday due to the weather, reported Efe. Upon resumption on Thursday, the defending champion stepped on the gas and crushed Schwartzman 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

"Today, all day, on Philippe Chatrier, the fans said "Forza, Marco", so I think this is the best moment for me", said Cecchinato."Against Dominic Thiem, he is top 10, and today all the people were for me". It's still very early in the match", Thiem told the media, prior to the completion of Nadal's semi-fina before adding: "He's a big favourite against everybody. That led to 34 winners (eight more than Nadal) but also 42 unforced errors (18 more than Nadal).

Just 45 percent of Thiem's first serves went in, compared to Nadal's 65 percent.

It was hard not to feel sympathy for Thiem, playing in his first grand slam final against a man who simply does not lose this particular battle.

Although at times during the first set against Del Potro, especially when he was 0-40 down at 1-1 and 15-40 down at 4-4 it looked as though he might be in for a real scrap.

He is the only man to beat Nadal on clay over the past two seasons, doing so twice.

But Austrian Thiem will see this as a fantastic opportunity to reach a maiden Grand Slam final, after losing to Djokovic and Nadal at the semi-final stage in each of the last two years in Paris.

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