Nadal beats Del Potro, advances to French Open Finals

June 09,2018 - 10:32 PM

PARIS – Under pressure at the outset, Rafael Nadal already had cast aside three break points in his French Open semifinal’s third game when, at 4-all, Juan Martin del Potro held another three.

If Nadal’s march toward an 11th championship at Roland Garros was going to be stopped on this day, things were going to have to go del Potro’s way right then. Both men knew that full well.

“That,” del Potro would say later, “was my chance.”

Ah, but there’s a reason Nadal is 11-0 in semifinals at the French Open, a reason he is 10-0 in finals there — so far. He doesn’t cede a thing and he doesn’t let up. Nadal saved that second trio of break points Friday, held there, then broke in the next game to grab that set. It was part of a run in which he claimed 14 of the last 17 games to overwhelm the No. 5-seeded del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 and earn yet another spot in the title match at Court Philippe Chatrier.

In Sunday’s final, Nadal will face No. 7 Dominic Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria who is the only man to beat him on red clay over the past two seasons.

“He’s a big favorite against everybody,” said Thiem, who reached his first Grand Slam final by ending the out-of-nowhere run of 72nd-ranked Marco Cecchinato of Italy 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1. “Still, I know how to play against him. I have a plan.”

Surely, so did del Potro. That crucial early juncture altered the course of things, though.

“Just thinking in a positive way and just thinking that I have to hold. `I can’t give him the game. If he wins the game, OK. But I will not give (it to) him,”’ Nadal said. “That’s the only way for me to approach the tough moments.”

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TAGS: advances, Beats, Del Potro, Finals, French, Nadal, open

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