PARIS, June 8, 2018
First-time Grand Slam finalist Dominic Thiem will challenge Rafael Nadal for the French Open title on Sunday.
Thiem defeated Marco Cecchinato of Italy 7-5, 7-6 (12-10), 6-1. The 24-year-old hit 39 winners and broke serve four times to prevail in two hours and 17 minutes.
“The second set tie-break was the big key to the match, 100 per cent, because obviously he felt all the matches from the past two weeks after that,” said Thiem. “If he would have won the tie-break, he would [have been] full power, for sure, in the third set. So it was good for me that I won it… I expect that he will be a really good player on clay. You don’t get to a Grand Slam semi-final by accident. He beat really good players.”
Thiem becomes the only second Austrian player to reach a Grand Slam final since Thomas Muster, who won the title at Roland Garros in 1995.
“Of course there is pressure, especially in Grand Slam finals, because I have gone a very long way now and I don’t want to lose the final,” said Thiem.
Later on Friday, Rafael Nadal eased past Juan Martín del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. The No. 1 seed was in control of the encounter, saved all of the seven break points he faced, capitalizing on five of his own to secure victory in two hours and 14 minutes.
The Spaniard is just the second man in the Open Era to advance to 11 championship matches at a single Grand Slam, equalling Roger Federer’s tally of 11 Wimbledon finals.
“It was a good second and third set for me, of course, and a good hold in the first. [I had] good tactics and [a good] mentality in the first set,” Nadal said. “That gave me the possibility to play much better later on the match.”
Nadal and Thiem will meet for the 10th time with the Spaniard leading 6-3 in their head-to-head records. All of their previous matches took place on clay. The last encounter between the two, however, was won by the Austrian at the Mutua Madrid Open earlier this year.