Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

Del Potro's epic praise for French Open finalist Nadal

Del Potro's epic praise for French Open finalist Nadal

Del Potro was in tears at the end of his match against Cilic as he celebrated reaching his first French Open semi-final since 2009.

Nadal compiled a 35-20 edge in winners while making only 19 unforced errors against del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal faced an anxious night after rain intervened with him trailing Argentina's Diego Schwartzman in his French Open quarter-final on Wednesday.

The 16th-seeded Gauff, who is 14 years old, beat 15th-seeded Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada 6-4, 6-3.

The men's singles semi-final at Roland Garros will take place Friday with Nadal taking on Del Potro in the first semi-final, while the other semi-final will see second favorite Dominic Thiem take on surprise candidate Marco Cecchinato, who beat Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinal.

Cecchinato is bidding to become the first Italian to reach a men's final at a Grand Slam tournament since Adriano Panatta won the title in Paris 42 years ago. "If I want to beat him, I have to play that way like I did in Rome and in Madrid".

"But I have a plan".

Del Potro has won two of his past three meetings with Nadal. "If Nadal gives him opportunities, he should be confident enough to go for the kill", Becker pointed out. I know I have to play at my best. If he wins the game, OK.

When the players came back on for half an hour Nadal had rediscovered his serve and found his forehand, until at 5-3 30-15 the heavens opened again. In my eyes, those odds are too bullish about Nadal's chances.

Del Potro missed another chance at 2-0 in the second set and from that point there was only going to be one victor. He missed the tournament every year from 2013-16 because of injuries, including three operations on his left wrist. The vanquished del Potro acknowledged as much as he reflected on the brief stretch where he was able to put up some resistance to Nadal's unremitting intensity.

"The first set was very hard, with too many chances for Juan Martin", Nadal said. I'm not interested in these things, I just play tennis.

-Tennis Channel Plus features up to 10 courts of live action from Roland Garros beginning Sunday, May 27 at 5:00am ET.

Croatian Cilic played an very bad game when serving for the set, making four unforced errors, but he was gifted another chance to serve for the set after breaking Del Potro again and at the second time of asking he levelled the match.

Muguruza has not dropped a set so far in this year's tournament as she seeks a second championship in Paris and third major trophy overall.

- World number one Halep, the runner-up in 2014 and 2017, survived a first round scare to defeat America's Alison Riske but has been in cruise control ever since, happily going under the radar to make the quarter-finals.

- This has been a surprisingly one-sided rivalry between the two former US Open champions, with Del Potro having won his last seven matches against Cilic, only dropping sets during that time in a thrilling 2016 Davis Cup final clash.

In 2016, Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality.

"Not a very nice feeling", Thiem said.

At the French Open this year, Nadal has looked sluggish in the opening exchanges.

Thiem weathered three set points for Cecchinato, at 7-6, 9-8 and 10-9. But once Thiem got to 10-10 - ironically with a superb drop volley of his own - the clay-court prince was back.

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