Rafael Nadal into French Open final with win over Juan Martin del Potro


Nadal has won all 10 semi-finals he has contested at Roland Garros
2018 French Open men’s final
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Date: Sunday, 10 June Time: 14:00 BST
Coverage: Live radio and text commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

Top seed Rafael Nadal will bid for a record-extending 11th French Open title after breezing past fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals.

Nadal, 32, won 6-4 6-1 6-2 to set up a meeting with Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final.

The Spaniard, who has only lost twice in 87 matches at Roland Garros, beat the Argentine in just over two hours.

Nadal is only the second man after Roger Federer to reach 11 finals at the same Grand Slam.

Thiem, 24, will contest his first major final after beating unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato in straights sets earlier on Friday.

Can Thiem stop Nadal?

World number one Nadal was the overwhelming pre-tournament favourite to win an event he has dominated since making his debut as a teenager in 2005.

Little evidence has been presented over the past fortnight to suggest he will not add another Coupe des Mousquetaires to his collection.

He has dropped just one set so far – at the start of his quarter-final win against Diego Schwartzman – and crushed 2009 US Open champion Del Potro in dominant fashion.

Every bit of his ruthless streak was evident as he turned what was an even opening set into a procession of a victory.

After nicking the first set with a break in the final game, Nadal cracked 13 winners and allowed Del Potro just 16 points in a second set lasting just half an hour.

The pressure continued to tell on the Argentine, who failed to win a point in the opening two games of the third set.

Still Nadal pressed, with blistering forehand winners flowing, breaking again for a 4-1 lead and sealing victory three games later with an easy hold.

Now he will face Thiem – the only player to beat him on clay in the past two years – in Sunday’s final.

Both of Thiem’s victories came in three-set matches in Rome and Madrid, but sustaining it over five sets in Paris is likely to be a different proposition.

Del Potro pays the price for missed chances

Del Potro, 29, is a popular figure among tennis fans, with affection for him growing further as a result of the catalogue of injuries he has suffered in recent years.

He looked destined to be a multiple Grand Slam champion after winning the US Open as a 20-year-old, but almost had to quit the sport because of career-threatening wrist problems.

However, he has fought back and reached his first semi-final at Roland Garros since 2009.

Having never beaten the Spaniard on his favoured surface, it felt like he needed to seize the opening set to maximise his chances of causing an upset.

Del Potro edged the early exchanges even though the scoreboard showed parity, testing Nadal on his service games and earning six break points as a result.

But he was unable to convert any – and it proved his undoing.

Nadal fought them off – three at 1-1 and three more at 4-4 – then took the set with only his second break point when Del Potro slammed a backhand into the net.

Del Potro missed another chance at 2-0 in the second set and from that point there was only going to be one winner.

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