Nadal, Del Potro set up semi-final blockbuster

Carla Harmon
June 9, 2018

The pivotal part of the match was the second-set tiebreaker in which both men played superbly - and both had chances to end it. Thiem went ahead 6-3, but wasted three set points there, including a bad volley into the net at 6-4 that left him chewing ruefully on his left index finger. "The changes were not the sun or the rain".

"He's an unbelievable player", Nadal said. I think he's the second or third-best player on clay.

"It was a very hard match against a very good friend and a very good player".

The world number one, who lost the opening set 6-4 before rain intervened on Wednesday evening, roared back in impressive fashion. I am so proud to be playing tennis.

Such is his motivation to win his 17th Grand Slam on Sunday, that the task facing Austrian 24-year-old Thiem was described as "almost impossible" by Del Potro.

In yesterday's delayed matches from Wednesday, Rafa Nadal completed his fightback over Diego Schwartzman, recovering from a set and break down to eventually ease through in four sets, while Marin Cilic succumbed to Juan Martin Del Potro, with the Argentine progressing also via a 3-1 scoreline, albeit in four rather tighter sets. His ravenous will to win this title for an 11th time - a figure that feels weighty enough to merit Roman numerals instead - was on display Friday as he made a three-set meal of Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro. The victor of these meetings ended up in the final each time and won three of the four Slams. "That's the most important for me".

The No. 7-seeded Thiem reached the first Grand Slam final of his career by ending the surprising run of 72nd-ranked Marco Cecchinato of Italy at Roland Garros with a powerful performance in a 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1 victory Friday. It has been a long time without a good feeling in my body.

"If he continues with this desire, he can win many more times, like Federer for Wimbledon, and other major tournaments", added Del Potro.

But reaching such heady heights would have seemed a long way off when he started his 2016 season ranked outside the world's top 1,000. It's a day that I should rejoice about, enjoy.

"Tomorrow I will try to play a match as I did in a different surface against Rafa", Del Potro told reporters.

There's also the emotional toll to consider - after beating Cilic, Del Potro broke down in tears on court and said: "It's tough to speak now".

The 2009 US Open champ, who will be playing his fifth career semifinal in a major, hit 31 winners against Cilic, including 19 aces.

Nadal emerged victorious in straight sets, including a memorable second in which he dropped just the one game. He confronted the fan, then smashed his racket as he returned to his chair at the changeover.

The Italian, who had never won a Grand Slam match before the tournament, faces seventh seed Thiem in the last four. "But I get closer to them, just asking who was it?" But I'm still trying to find the right person.

Other reports by iNewsToday