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Del Potro powers past Cilic to set up Rafa clash

10 June 2018

Nadal made easy work of No. 5 seed Juan Martin del Potro in a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2, win, while Thiem eliminated upstart Italian Marco Cecchinato by a 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1, score. The Argentinian had forced six break points during the first set but each time Nadal fended them off. Nadal had not had a sniff on Del Potro's serve until, at 5-4, two swishes of his forehand forced two set points, the second of which he converted when Del Potro netted. 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.

After he held there, that was pretty much that for del Potro. And from tomorrow on, I will do what I have to do to get ready for Sunday.

"It's a challenge that every player wants to have", he said. But normally, the way the game went, I should have lost the first set, but I managed to save the points.

"The second-set tie-break was the big key to the match, 100 percent, because obviously, he (Cecchinato) felt all the matches from these two weeks after that", Thiem said.

"If he continues with this desire, he can win many more times, like Federer for Wimbledon, and other major tournaments", added Del Potro. The 32-year-old is just 6-3 against Thiem in his career, and all three of those losses have come on clay.

'As you suffer, when you have bad moments, for example, in Acapulco when I was stuck and couldn't play in Miami, as well, these are hard moments.

The former US Open champion, who nearly retired from the sport two years ago after persistent wrist injuries, had said he would make a "last-minute decision" on his Roland Garros participation after suffering a leg injury at the Rome Masters. Trying to beat Nadal at Roland Garros in a best-of-five match is akin to trying to beat '08 Phelps in the individual medley, or 2012 Usain Bolt in the 200-meter get the picture.

"Well, it's tough to speak", the 29-year-old, who has risen back to sixth in the rankings after battling back from three left wrist surgeries, said on court as fans sang "Delpo, Delpo".

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Nadal will be chasing his 11th singles title on Sunday night (AEST), if rain does not push the final to next week.

Nadal will face either Croatian third seed Marin Cilic or Juan Martin del Potro, the fifth seeded Argentine, in the semifinals.

"I think also a good thing is that I faced him already twice here". "Still, I know how to play against him". "Best of five is also different story".

He has proved that he is a major threat to Nadal in best-of-three-set matches on clay, beating him three times, most recently in straight sets in the quarter-finals of the Masters 1000 event in Madrid this year.

A fourth set point for Thiem vanished because of one of Cecchinato's many drop shots.

The Argentine believes that Nadal is playing better than he has for years. Cecchinato took the first two sets to first-to-seven, but Thiem dominated him in the final set to win 7-5, 7-6 (12-10), 6-1.

"Once he gets ahead in the match, his confidence gets back", said Moya, the 1998 French Open champion.

Del Potro powers past Cilic to set up Rafa clash