Four thoughts on the men's semis at Roland Garros

Four thoughts on the men's semis at Roland Garros”

But throughout this French Open he has shown his consistency, overcoming Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, and Kei Nishikori in four sets and getting the better of an exhausted Alexander Zverev, the only player who can challenge the eventual finalists on clay, in the quarters. However, Thiem did beat Nadal on the clay of Madrid last month. He then went on to beat Nadal in straight sets in Madrid and seemed on course for a first Masters title before collapsing to Alexander Zverev in the finals and then losing to Fabio Fognini in the first round of the next Masters in Rome.

Nadal, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, claimed his 85th win in Paris 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. His appetite was audible in the long, trailing groans of effort that echoed around the old concrete stadium.

"Nadal, in Paris, best-of-five, is still half a class above Dominic, half a level too good, " said Bresnik, who has coached Thiem since the Austrian was nine. Because if it's not that way, it's sure that I will not be here after I-don't-know-how-many years of career that I already had.

"Delpo is not afraid of too many players in the world". It's a day that I should rejoice about, enjoy.

Thiem overcame Marco Cecchinato 7-5 7-6 6-1 in Friday's semi-final to hand himself the ominous task of preventing clay court specialist and world number one Nadal from lifting an 11th title at Roland Garros. In Wimbledon I lost against (Novak) Djokovic. "It's so good for me, for my team, for my family".

Charmingly, despite Nadal's accomplishments, he's still prone to nerves when he steps on center court here. So a lot of years of playing and doing the same things every year.

Interestingly, the match stats suggest there wasn't much between Del Potro and Cilic, with Del Potro only having two more break point chances than the Croat, and the 54% points won percentage is not particularly impressive for a 3-1 success. Del Potro had forced six break points during the first set but Nadal fended each one off.

Nadal had the crowd purring when he fired a backhand victor down the line and punched the air after showing incredible defensive skills to save one of four break points, before Schwartzman thrashed a forehand long to go a set down.

He probably felt as though he had been, as Nadal completed a devastating 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory. He's ridden his luck all through Roland Garros this term, and given the way he managed to get back in the tie-break, momentum had suddenly shifted in favour of the underdog. And what I'm really impressed of is that, you know, even though he won it 10 times, he's here to win 11 times.

However, the 25-year-old failed to take the three sets points he fashioned and was brutally punished after going two sets down, with two breaks for Thiem allowing him to secure the third set in just 28 minutes. Dominic Thiem is an incredible player.

The No. 7-seeded Thiem beat Cecchinato 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1 in the semifinals Friday.

In addition to his physicality, his stamina, his will, his rocketed shots, his left-handedness, his diabolical spin and his rare capacity to take a mid-rally predicament and reverse it into some kind of optical illusion of a victor, Rafael Nadal has this curious knack that continues to wreak a living hell for opponents even 14 French Opens into his career: his humility.

"You lose, you lose", he said, "but I'm going to play with my highest passion and love for the game and for the sport and try to have success".

One big difference in this meeting is that those two matches that went Thiem's way were best-of-three-set events.

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