Nadal, Halep into French Open semis

by Steven Clarke June 12, 2018, 6:10
Nadal, Halep into French Open semis

Nadal beat the Argentinian in straight sets 6-4 6-1 6-2 in his French Open semi-final showdown.

The rain came again to end play for the day with Nadal 5-3 up, and he levelled the match on Thursday as he surged to a 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 triumph. Thiem also has momentum on his side, having won their last meeting at the Madrid Open.

The victor will play either seventh seed Dominic Thiem, who appears in his third straight semi-final in Paris or Italian Marco Cecchinato, who will hope to continue his dream run having beaten former champion Novak Djokovic in the last round.

The 32-year-old Spaniard, with 16 majors to his name, will play his 24th Grand Slam final at Roland Garros against Dominic Thiem who is in his first.

True, he was obliterated by Nadal in the semi-final 12 months ago but Thiem has added more aggression to his natural claycourt weapons, specifically the forehand, as he displayed when stunning Nadal in the Madrid quarter-final. For me it's incredible. I know I have to play my best tennis to have a chance on Sunday.

"I can not believe it now", Karin Thiem, a tennis coach, told a group of reporters.

"It is nearly impossible to beat Rafa", said Del Potro who had his chances in the semi-final but failed to convert any of his seven break points before his challenge petered out into tired hopelessness.

"The stop yesterday helps, because it was in a tough moment of my match", Nadal said.

Nadal crushed Del Potro's spirit with the intensity of his tennis in the second set, bounding 5-0 ahead before the Argentine registered a game to lift the spirits of his fans.

Now Thiem is back for another attempt after navigating a draw that included 19th-seeded Kei Nishikori, the second-seeded Zverev and on Friday, the unseeded Italian surprise Marco Cecchinato in a semifinal that Thiem won, 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1, after saving three set points in the second-set tiebreaker.

Nadal is now just the second man to reach 11 finals at the same Slam, equaling Roger Federer's mark at Wimbledon.

Thiem has yet to prove that he can stay with Nadal in a best-of-five-set match, losing in the second round of the French Open in 2014, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, and again in the French Open semifinals previous year by the lopsided and deflating score of 6-3, 6-4, 6-0, after plenty of prematch buildup. And I had my chances today, but I couldn't play my best because of him. "And I will try just to be calm during the match and try everything I can".

"Of course it's very important to have a good recovery now".

Cecchinato, who was suspended for match-fixing in 2016 before being cleared on a technicality, proved to be no pushover even though he had never won a match at a major before this year's French Open.

Thiem then held his serve at love for a 2-0 lead.

"He's too strong. He's improving his backhand a lot".

Del Potro had required treatment on a hip problem suffered early in the first set and he visibly wilted in the second, raising his arms in mock celebration when he won a solitary game while already 5-0 behind.

The other men's match is No. 7 Dominic Thiem of Austria against unseeded Marco Cecchinato of Italy. He impressively recovered from a slow start to make the first set close.

However, having squandered one set point, he went in for a simple backhand volley victor only to dump it into the net.

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