Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Dominic Thiem ends Cecchinato fairytale to reach French Open final

Dominic Thiem ends Cecchinato fairytale to reach French Open final

He looked hesitant and edgy, as if he might not be able to finish what he started.

This was about Nadal, the pride of Spain, trying to do his postmatch interview in French.

Former Roland Garros junior champion Cilic, bidding to reach the semi-finals for the first time after falling in the last eight 12 months ago, kept his nose in front in the fourth. For me it's incredible.

There have, however, appeared to be one or two chinks in Nadal's armour at Roland Garros this year.

If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he'd have to expand his belief that death and taxes are life's only certainties and add a third - Rafael Nadal winning the French Open.

Soon enough, he was yelling at himself, the very picture of exasperation thanks to Nadal's relentless ball-tracking and shotmaking. There is no difference between practices and matches. "That's the only way for me to approach the tough moments".

Now only Dominic Thiem stands in the way of Nadal and what seems an inevitable 11th Roland Garros title.

However, Nadal leads their overall head-to-head 6-3 with all of their encounters coming on clay. — Halep, after claiming her maiden Grand Slam title. That's why he's the No. 1 and beating all the guys.

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"Thiem is an fantastic player".

Thiem is looking to become only the second Austrian player - man or woman - to win a Grand Slam title after Thomas Muster's French Open victory in 1995. "Gave me time for reflection, to calm my nerves and to see how I needed to change things". "He beat me in Madrid, he has big power so I have to be at my best and improve", said Nadal.

'But I'm also aware that here it's tougher.

Nadal thrashed the Argentine to win the match in straight sets: 6-4,6-1,6-2.

In Madrid, Thiem said the key was to be positive against Nadal.

While we have an edge here, I appreciate that backing a heavy odds-on shot isn't most people's cup of tea, so the game handicap should be a viable proposition.

Most men who face Nadal have a plan.

The Austrian, shortly after defeating Novak Djokovic-slayer Marco Cecchinato in Friday's first semi-final, revealed he has developed "a plan" to topple the defending champion in the final hurdle in Paris.

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Del Potro, the tournament's fifth seed, was pegged at 6-6 and 5-5 in a first-set tie-break with Cilic, seeded third, before the rain came. Thiem will have to produce tremendous quality and depth for hours to have a chance to join Soderling and Djokovic's exclusive club.

Bresnik knows, right along with everyone else, what a hard task it is to try to slow Nadal in a best-of-five-set match on his favourite surface and at his favourite tournament.

With that in mind, Bresnik said he did not anticipate a victory for his pupil this year. I love what I am doing.

"It was a poor performance", Bresnik said. "Still, I know how to play against him". The Roland Garros men's final will be played on Sunday at 3pm (2pm BST). Thiem ended up winning the title. We expect a better Thiem for sure than the one we met past year. "This is my favorite grand slam and hopefully I will be better than previous year". "But I like this". But yes it happened in the last two matches. People said: 'It's stupid.

However, you will never hear Nadal echo similar brash confidence.

Yet despite lagging behind on the size of its winner's paycheque, the French Open is more generous overall than both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Asked if he felt in "steamroller mode" heading into the final, Nadal said: "I can't tell you, I'm just in the finals".

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