Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

French Open glance: Nadal taking on Thiem in final | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

French Open glance: Nadal taking on Thiem in final | Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Rafael Nadal improved to 11-0 in French Open semifinals.

Play has since resumed and Nadal now leads 4-2 in the third set.

Nadal raced away with 14 of the last 17 games.

The last one in US Open I lost against Rafa. "I was very scared".

"Yeah, if I won the second set, I think is totally different the third set", he said. "But in the end, it was not too hard".

Nadal's incredible record in Paris now reads 86 wins and two defeats.

Thiem reached his first grand slam final at Roland Garros with a comfortable defeat of Marco Cecchinato, meaning he will face Nadal after the 10-time victor swept aside Juan Martin del Potro in the second semi-final. "It's definitely one of the best things somebody ever achieved in sport".

Caty McNally and Cori Gauff will meet in an all-American girls' final at the French Open after winning their semifinals. The world No. 1 became the second man in the Open Era to make 11 finals at the same major, tying friendly rival Roger Federer's mark on the grass of the All England Club.

By contrast, Thiem was competing in his maiden major final and although he matched his illustrious opponent for large parts of the opening set, he crumbled at the crunch and never really regained his poise.

Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, has a 1-3 record in Grand Slam semis.

Nadal is 6-3 all-time against Thiem, but the Austrian has beaten the Spaniard twice on clay in the last 13 months: Once at Rome in 2017 and again in Madrid earlier this season, with the latter ending a 21-match and 50-set win streak on clay for Nadal.

In his on-court speech after Nadal's 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory, the 24-year-old Thiem said: "I still remember when you won here the first time, 2005". He is 110-2 in all best-of-five matches on red clay.

Thiem's serving and shot-making under pressure were among his principle weaknesses in losing the first set.

It was hard not to feel sympathy for Thiem, playing in his first grand slam final against a man who simply does not lose this particular battle. A volley into the net.

What went through Nadal's mind right then? One down-the-line forehand victor landed right at the baseline, leaving Thiem sagging his shoulders and muttering.

At least Thiem has in the past found the key to unravelling the Nadal clay court enigma.

It was a cloudy and steamy afternoon, with the temperature at 77 degrees (24 Celsius) and the humidity approaching 70 per cent.

Nadal, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, claimed his 85th win here against just two losses after weathering a big-hitting opening from 2009 US Open victor Del Potro to win 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

He saved three break points in his first service game but a wayward backhand ensured Nadal took the fourth. "I was not (in) control of my finger".

A trainer was called and he briefly inspected Nadal's left wrist. "It has to be a player that plays extremely well", said the Swede. At the following changeover, he was given a salt pill by a doctor and had his left forearm massaged by a trainer. "Today was unbelievable for me, with all of Philippe-Chatrier Court full".

Rafael Nadal lifted the French Open trophy for an 11th time Sunday - and this time without the guidance of Uncle Toni.

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