Rafael Nadal to Face Dominc Thiem for Roland Garros Crown
(June 8, 2018) No. 1 Rafael Nadal will meet the only man who beat him during the clay season, No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem, in the French Open final on Sunday. Both men had straight set victories in their respective semifinals.
The Spaniard, now 11-0 in Roland Garros final fours, easily defeated Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2, saving all seen break points he faced. For No. 5 del Potro, this was his first semifinal in Paris since 2009, missing the tournament 2013-16 due to injury.
The Argentine injured his left hip in the fourth game of the match, when he wrong-footed a shot and needed to call for a doctor at the changeover.
The 32-year-old Nadal is on the verge of winning his seventh French Open title on Sunday. Which would be his 17th major title, which would be just three behind Roger Federer with 20.
In the earlier match, 24-year-old Austrian Thiem held off surprise semifinalist – No. 72 Marco Cecchinato of Italy 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1. It was the first meeting between the two men.
“I played semis last two years, so just went one step further today,” Thiem said. “The second-set tiebreak was the big key to the match, 100%, because obviously he felt all the matches from these two weeks after that. And if he would have won the tiebreak, he would be full power, for sure, in the third set. So it was good for me that I won it.”
The Italian was accused of match-fixing in 2016, suspended for 18-months, appealed and his suspension was dropped due to a technicality.
This was Thiem’s third straight year in the Roland Garros semifinals, this will be not only his first Roland Garros, but also his first major tournament final.
Thiem is the only person to beat Nadal in the last two clay court seasons, Nadal is perfect against everyone else on the tour on the surface.
Asked about playing Nadal in the final, Thiem said: “Still, I know how to play against him. I have a plan. If it’s going to be him on Sunday, I will try everything that my plan also going to work out a little bit here and not only in Madrid or in Rome.”
“If I want to beat him, I have to play that way like I did in Rome and in Madrid. But I’m also aware that here it’s tougher. He likes the conditions more here than in Madrid, for sure. Best of five is also different story.
“I think also a good thing is that I faced him already twice here.”
“I’m not the one who has the pressure,” a smiling Thiem said in his news conference.
“My feeling is on Sunday I have a very difficult match against a player that is playing great,” Nadal said. “I know I have to play my best if I want to have chances. Good thing is I played a lot of good matches this clay court season. So Sunday is the day to give my best, is the day to increase even a little bit more the level.
“I hope to be ready to do it. That’s the goal.”
Nadal on taking on Thiem: “If I play well, I normally have my chances. If I don’t play well, it will be almost impossible, because I play against a player that he gonna play well, no? He’s playing well. Had a great match today. Good match the other day against Sascha. Is a player that will be a big challenge. So I can think about tactics, but you can do tactical things when you are playing well. If you are not playing well, it’s very difficult duplicate a strategy. So what I have to do is play my best. If I play my best, I believe that I can have my chance.”
Nadal leads in his head-to-head record against Thiem 6-3.