Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Del Potro has 'nothing to lose' against 'king of clay' Nadal


But fast-forward 12 days and the affable Del Potro is preparing to take on 10-time champion Nadal in his first French Open semi-final since 2009.

After dropping the opening set of his first round match he won the next 12. It wasn't a good night because I was thinking too much, where could I serve, "T" or wide?

Nadal is only the third male player in the Open era to reach 11 semifinals at a single Grand Slam, alongside Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors.

The 29-year-old was in tears after the win. I was more happy with the change.

The second set was also dominated by serve until Cilic fired himself up to break at 4-4 - a furious del Potro throwing his racket at the changeover.

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But he returned 30-15 up and serving to level the match after fighting back from a break down in the second set between rain delays the previous evening.

The world No 1 re-emerged yesterday fresher and fitter and he lost just four games in the last two sets, prevailing 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

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. "I was able to stop, to think, to calm down and to see things with a bit more clarity", Nadal told a media conference.

He buckled at 5-5 and sent a backhand long on break point, leaving del Potro to serve for the match, which he did easily as Cilic sent three more backhands out.

Halep has won five of her past nine matches against the 12th-seeded Kerber, including their most recent encounter in the Australian Open semifinals when she saved two match points.

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"I don't know if I will win, but I will take a big love from you and that's the most important for me", he said.

"It has been a long time without a good feeling in my body". "I think I did a great match".

Twice the runner-up in Paris, Halep has qualified for the final by defeating 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4.

Del Potro gave 11 break point chances in 23 service games (0.48 per game) in this quarter-final, considerably higher than his 0.35 per game figure on clay in 2018.

In womens' play, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys were to play for a spot in the French Open final. Cilic, who like Del Potro stands 1.98m tall, owns a U.S. Open title, has a beast of a serve and always looked like being his first serious test.

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Two women who have won the title at Roland Garros, Maria Sharapova and Garbine Muguruza, play each other in the quarterfinals. "I'm just playing tennis".

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