Ruthless Nadal crushes Del Potro to reach 11th French Open final

ImageThe two men’s quarterfinals scheduled for Wednesday were suspended because

ImageThe two men’s quarterfinals scheduled for Wednesday were suspended because

Rafael Nadal booked his spot in the 2018 French Open semi-finals as he completed a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 defeat of Argentina's Diego Schwartzman at Roland Garros on Thursday.

On Sunday, Nadal will face No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem, a 24-year-old Austrian who reached his first Grand Slam final by eliminating unseeded Marco Cecchinato in straight sets.

Spain's Nadal will next play another Argentine Juan Martin del Potro after the former US Open champion beat Marin Cilic 7-6 5-7 6-3 7-5.

What followed was a riveting breaker that kept fans on the edge of their seats as Thiem saved three sets points while Cecchinato saved four before the seventh seed finally claimed his fifth set point to win it 12-10 and go two sets up.

The delay enabled Nadal to regroup and he turned the deficit into a 5-3 lead before a second stoppage ended play for the day.

At the press conference following the game, Nadal was asked what "biological age" he was at after a study which showed Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was just 23 (the footballer is actually ten years older than that).

Del Potro had required treatment on a hip problem suffered early in the first set and he visibly wilted in the second, raising his arms in mock celebration when he won a solitary game while already 5-0 behind.

In 2009, del Potro lost to Roger Federer in the French Open semifinals.

Appearing in his third consecutive appearance in the final four at Roland Garros, Thiem finally got to face someone other than eventual champions Nadal (2017) or Novak Djokovic (2016), and he took full advantage.

The second set was also dominated by serve until Cilic fired himself up to break at 4-4 - a furious del Potro throwing his racket at the changeover. I know I have to play at my best.

Del Potro dipped at the start of the third and Cilic had points for a double break but the burly Argentine, roared on by chants of "Delpo Delpo" recovered his drive to hit back from 0-2 and take the set. Next up on Philippe-Chatrier was Nadal-the King of Clay on his court-and he delivered a terrific performance, making del Potro look patently average en route to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory.

"It's tough to speak now, " the del Potro said.

"These matches are hard", he said.

When he's won the first set, Nadal has won 85 matches and has lost only two, a run which has cemented his legacy as a clay court specialist.

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.

When they return to the stadium, Nadal will be serving at 5-3, 30-15 in the second set.

"And I will do my best to be the best on Sunday".

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