Nadal has never failed to win the title when reaching the last four at Roland Garros, but knows that Del Potro, who he has lost to five times in 14 meetings, is a unsafe opponent. Both men knew that full well.
Well, the two do meet - in Sunday's final - but the market disagrees with my ratings, making Nadal the short favourite, at around [1.26]. He doesn't cede a thing and he doesn't let up.
That Rafael Nadal would reach a record 11th French Open semifinal, closing in on his 11th championship at Roland Garros, was hardly surprising.
As for Thiem, the 24-year-old is in his first Grand Slam final.
"I think it helps, definitely, knowing that you were the last guy to beat him", said Bresnik, whose association with Thiem spans more than 15 years.
"But I have a plan".
But Thiem went for the kill in the seventh game, leaving an emotional Cecchinato to take the applause of the crowd.
"Just thinking in a positive way and just thinking that I have to hold".
"Everybody knows that I was close to quit this sport two years ago, but then I, for one reason, I never give up". If he wins the game, OK.
Thiem clinically snuffed out Marco Cecchinato's Roland Garros fairytale in their semi-final, grinding the Italian into the famed red clay - but not without a fight.
So nerves could come into play in the early going against Nadal, who will be bidding for his 17th major title overall.
Del Potro quickly won two points to settle the set before being pegged back as Cilic levelled at the second time of asking in the second set - having made four unforced errors when serving for the set at 5-4. He missed the tournament every year from 2013-16 because of injuries, including three operations on his left wrist. "He's one of the best players in the world on this surface", Nadal said.More news: The End Of Net Neutrality Is Here
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"Delpo is not afraid of too many players in the world". "It has been a long time without good feelings".
Wilander believes Thiem can worry Nadal if he is prepared to "take risks" like Diego Schwartzman did in the quarter-finals when he snapped the left-hander's run of 37 consecutive completed sets won at the French Open by snatching the opener.
Nadal has been untroubled en route to the semis, apart from a blip in the quarter-finals against Diego Schwartzman, but the towering Del Potro looms large on Court Philippe Chatrier on Friday.
"He likes the conditions more here than in Madrid, for sure", said Thiem, who lost in straight sets to Nadal here in the 2017 semifinals.
This time, Thiem instead faced Cecchinato, who never had won a Grand Slam match until this tournament and was the lowest-ranked men's semifinalist at the clay-court major in 19 years.
Romania's Simona Halep will first play American Sloane Stephens in the women's singles final tomorrow.
And yet, insists Nadal: "I just go on court knowing that every match is hard, and I can lose and I can win". Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months in 2016, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality.
One big difference in this meeting is that those two matches that went Thiem's way were best-of-three-set events.
When Thiem's set point No 4 and 5 were saved with a botched volley and a brilliant drop volley respectively, it looked like the tide might just change in the tiebreak as it had against Djokovic.
The No. 7-seeded Thiem beat Cecchinato 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1 in the semifinals Friday.
At long last, Thiem converted his fifth set point when Cecchinato sent a forehand long.
The second set turned into a tight tactical battle with neither able to break serve.