Thiem ends Cecchinato's French Open dream run

Thiem ends Cecchinato's French Open dream run

Thiem ends Cecchinato's French Open dream run

Nadal has never failed to win the title when reaching the last four at Roland Garros, but knows that Del Potro, who he has lost to five times in 14 meetings, is a unsafe opponent.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion has won the tournament 10 times.

Such is his motivation to win his 17th Grand Slam on Sunday, that the task facing Austrian 24-year-old Thiem was described as "almost impossible" by Del Potro.

Only two players have managed to beat him so far at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament - Robin Soldering in the fourth round of the 2009 edition and Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final of 2015 edition.

Rafael Nadal powered his way into the French Open final and then claimed he can still move up another gear.

Last year, Nadal beat him again in back-to-back finals in Barcelona and Madrid, winning 6-4 6-1 and 7-6 6-4 respectively.

And the only man to beat Nadal on clay previous year was Thiem.

The Sicilian journeyman usually earns a living by playing in second-tier tournaments, but over the past two weeks, the world number 72 looked like he belonged on the big stage.

And Thiem appeared happy at the prospect of Nadal reaching the final, pointing out that, as the underdog, he would be able to play without fear.

Breaking serve in the first game and bouncing to a 4-2 lead, Thiem controlled proceedings before Cecchinato reeled off the next three games with trademark flair and adventure.

"It is going to be tough one but I'm going to fight".

The fifth seed, who stunned Roger Federer to win the 2009 US Open at the age of 20, said he never imagined that the likes of the 20-time Grand Slam champion and Nadal would still be standing in his path at major tournaments nearly a decade later.

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"I need to regenerate and have a good breakfast to keep up my good level". Although he lost the first point of the fourth game, a ideal drop shot got Schwartzman to 15-all, and a backhand victor from followed by a drop shot gave Nadal a second break an 4-1 lead.

"To beat him on clay, I would say the only chance for any player now is to be really aggressive".

Had Cecchinato not tightened in the second set, when he held three set points, it might have been a different result.

Anything can happen in a Grand Slam final.

Rafael Nadal bids for his record-extending 11th French Open championship when he faces Dominic Thiem in the final.

"He's a big favorite against everybody", Thiem said.

Up in the stands, Nadal's uncle Toni, his former coach, was nervous, too, "because I thought maybe we can have a problem", he said.

I don't want anyone to think that it's a routine.

Cecchinato's career has been hindered by his links to a match-fixing scandal; he was banned for 18 months in 2016 before having the suspension overturned.

But once he squandered that chance against Thiem, the Italian ended up falling to a 7-5 7-6 (10) 6-1 defeat.

"Otherwise, it's not a very nice feeling".

That win, according to three-times former champion Mats Wilander, should be all Thiem is thinking about when he prepares for Sunday's clash.

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