Thiem for a change? Or same old Nadal script?

Thiem for a change? Or same old Nadal script?

Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal meet in the final of the 2018 tennis French Open.

Rafael Nadal celebrates a point against Juan Martin Del Potro in the French Open semifinals on June 8.

After struggling in his quarterfinal against Diego Schwartzman, Nadal is approaching his best form ahead of the final and hopes are high that the Spanish star will emerge victorious.

"When you're playing against the best player in the world and you have a few opportunities and you don't seize these opportunities, you have to wait for them to come back", the fifth seed - who seemed to be bothered by a hip problem in the match - told the media.

"You know when you start the clay-court season that Dominic, he's one of these players that have the chance to win every tournament that he's playing", Nadal said, "and maybe even (more so) here in Roland Garros, because he's strong physically". "That's why I got angry with someone. 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. He will be wary of Thiem, who is the only man to defeat him on clay in the last two years.

True, he was obliterated by Nadal in the semi-final 12 months ago but Thiem has added more aggression to his natural claycourt weapons, specifically the forehand, as he displayed when stunning Nadal in the Madrid quarter-final. I have to play my best. "Being in a final here is something I should rejoice about and be happy about", he said. If I had won that break, we could have played a longer match.

Seventh seed Thiem is the first Austrian to make a final at the majors since Thomas Muster was champion in Paris in 1995. "I can say a lot of things, but the easiest answer and the real answer is to play well".

Nadal has won six of his nine matches against Thiem, all of them coming on that famously hard red clay. "I never dreamed in 2005 when I played my first final here that I would be in another one". The second set like, the first was dominated by serve until Cilic fired himself up to break at 4-4 - a furious Del Potro throwing his racket at the changeover.

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His opponent Friday will be Juan Martin del Potro, who got choked up after waiting almost a decade to return to the final four in Paris - and dealing with three wrist operations in the interim.

"I am a human person", Nadal said following his 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory. Del Potro has achieved great victories this year.

Thiem was quick to respond, reeling off the next three games to take the set in 46 minutes.

"But I'm also aware that here it's tougher".

In 2016, Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality. Nadal has also won six of his last eight grand slam final appearances and is 10-0 in French Open final appearances.

"He's been a very complex opponent, and one of the best players in the world on this surface".

His huge serve helped him to save set points too and he finally gained the upper hand to take a two-set lead.

Thiem sent Cecchinato scurrying around the court before breaking decisively for a 6-5 lead with a lovely forehand victor.