Ruthless Rafael Nadal punishes Juan Martin del Potro in semi-final

French Open: Ruthless Rafael Nadal punishes Juan Martin del Potro in semi-final

French Open: Ruthless Rafael Nadal punishes Juan Martin del Potro in semi-final

"For me, the motivation to play here always is high, high as possible", said Nadal after breezing past Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in Friday's semi-finals in what was his 85th win in Paris against just two defeats. Nadal is bidding to become only the second player to win 11 titles at any Grand Slam tournament after Margaret Court, who won the Australian women's singles title 11 times.

More prize money is up for grabs than ever before at this year's French Open but it remains the least lucrative of the four Grand Slams for players to win.

Nadal tightened his grip, going to 5-1 on another double break in the third set and sealed the match when Del Potro hit a backhand long.World 72 Cecchinato had knocked out three seeded players to reach the semi-finals, including 12-time major victor Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.But Thiem, 24, was too strong and now believes he has a particularly powerful weapon on his side for the final - breakfast.

Nadal has not lost at Roland Garros when taking the first set and that record did not look like coming under threat as he continually rebuffed Thiem's attempts to make inroads into his serve, taking the second courtesy of an early break.

Going into the final at Roland Garros, Thiem's prospects of winning his first grand slam will be boosted as he is the only player to beat Nadal on clay twice (in 2017 and 2018).

Last year, Nadal beat him again in back-to-back finals in Barcelona and Madrid, winning 6-4 6-1 and 7-6 6-4 respectively.

"Thiem beat me in Madrid this year and played with big power".

And, after his unexpected run to the French Open semi-finals, the Italian is determined to prove that he is no one-hit wonder.

"I was in the same seat", he said after watching Nadal beat Dominic Thiem in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

In his on-court speech after Nadal's 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory, the 24-year-old Thiem said: "I still remember when you won here the first time, 2005".

"I know how to play against him", he said, without elaborating.

"But I have a plan".

"It's not easy. I've been on court just a couple of minutes ago".

Nadal crushed del Potro's spirit with the intensity of his tennis in the second set, bounding 5-0 ahead before the Argentine registered a game to lift the spirits of his fans. And as del Potro found in the semifinals, it often takes two or three shots that would have been winners to pierce Nadal's defence.

While Thiem faces an nearly impossible task on Sunday, Nadal was taking nothing for granted against the man who beat him in Madrid.

He led by two sets plus a break early in the third, when the middle finger on his racket-wielding left hand was cramping so badly he couldn't straighten it.

Siniakova was the doubles runner-up at last year's U.S. Open with a different partner. He then crushed a tired looking Zverev 6-4 6-2 6-1 before halting the fairy tale run of Cecchinato 7-6 7-6 6-1.

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