Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Thiem advances to first final, to face Nadal

Thiem advances to first final, to face Nadal

Look no further than Alexander Zverev, Gael Monfils, Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin del Potro and Rafa's opponent in the French Open final come Sunday, Dominic Thiem, as players who have followed suit.

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Both men advanced by winning quarterfinals suspended the night before because of rain.

"When you don't take your chances against the No. 1 in the world, you are are in trouble", del Porto said.

As for what sort of tactics will be employed Sunday, Nadal's coach, Carlos Moya, offered a hint.

Thiem saved three set points in the second before winning an epic tie-break, something for which Cecchinato has become notable this year.

Del Potro pulled up with a hip complaint as he trailed 2-1 in the first set against Nadal, but despite clear discomfort, he fought on and made it a dogged affair until surrendering a break that gave the world No. 1 an advantage.

The 24-year-old Thiem, the youngest man since Nadal to reach the final in Paris, ended the contest on his first match point with a forehand victor.

His remarkable run-remember, he won his first-round match 10-8 in the fifth set-is offset a bit by these allegations. That crucial early juncture altered the course of things, though.

'I lost a lot of opportunities with injuries and I know the years are going quick. "And I will try just to be calm during the match and try everything I can". I feel very fortunate to play in front of this crowd.

In Sunday's final, Thiem will face either No. 1 Nadal or No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro. "Without working hard and going through tough moments and still being focused on your passion for the game it is impossible to be here".

Now comes what del Potro called "the challenge that every player wants to have" - taking on Nadal at Roland Garros.

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And the first set was indeed tight, even with del Potro calling for the trainer at 2-3.

"For sure", said Thiem's coach, Gunter Bresnik, "this gives you a little hope". I have to play my best.

Too good for almost everyone, nearly every time, on clay.

It was the first time in three years that Nadal had dropped a set in Paris.

The Spaniard has been beaten just twice on clay in the past two seasons and both defeats have come against Thiem.

Romania's Simona Halep will first play American Sloane Stephens in the women's singles final tomorrow.

Thiem went through one pivotal stretch against Cecchinato, a 25-year-old from Sicily who never had won a Grand Slam match until this tournament and was the lowest-ranked men's semi-finalist at the clay-court major in 19 years.

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

"It really works for him", O'Shannessy said.

Bresnik has taken plenty of flak through the years for pushing Thiem to play such a dense tournament schedule, but the coach has long insisted that it is part of a master plan to build a resilient champion.

Thiem sent Cecchinato scurrying around the court before breaking decisively for a 6-5 lead with a lovely forehand victor. Thiem got to 10-all with a drop shot of his own.

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