PARIS (AFP) – Ten-time champion Rafael Nadal reached his 11th French Open final on Friday when he demolished Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets, setting up a title showdown with Dominic Thiem, the only man to defeat him on clay in the last two years.
Nadal, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, claimed his 85th win in Paris against just two losses after weathering a big-hitting opening from 2009 US Open winner Del Potro to win 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
In his 24th Grand Slam final, Nadal will face Thiem who ended Marco Cecchinato’s French Open fairytale, reaching his first major final with a 7-5, 7-6 (12/10), 6-1 victory.
Seventh seed Thiem is the first Austrian to make a final at the majors since Thomas Muster was champion in Paris in 1995.
”It was a very difficult first set and Juan Martin had lots of opportunities. He was a little unfortunate,” said Nadal who reeled off 14 of the last 17 games, having seen Del Potro fail to convert any of his seven break points.
Nadal is now just the second man to reach 11 finals at the same Slam, equalling Roger Federer’s mark at Wimbledon.
Thiem is the only man to beat Nadal on clay in the last two seasons – in Madrid this year and Rome in 2017.
But the Spaniard was impressive on Friday, finishing with 35 winners and 19 unforced errors to Del Potro’s analysis of 20 and 32.
“Thiem is an amazing player. He beat me in Madrid, he has big power so I have to be at my best and improve,” said Nadal. ”But I believe I will be ready for the final.”