Rafael Nadal could take revenge on Dominic Thiem in men’s singles final of the 2018 French Open.
Thiem remained the only player to have defeated Nadal on clay prior to Roland Garros, winning the duel in the quarterfinals at ATP Madrid Masters, snapping Nadal’s streak of 50 straight sets won on clay.
Thiem withstood huge challenge from Italian underdog Marco Cecchinato in the first two sets of Friday’s semifinal, winning 7-5 and 7-6 (10) respectively, before easing through the third set 6-1.
“The second-set tiebreak was the big key to the match, 100 percent, because obviously he felt all the matches from these two weeks after that. If he would have won the tiebreak, he would be full power in the third set,” said Thiem.
“He’s a big favorite against everybody. Still, I know how to play against him. I have a plan. I will try everything to make my plan also go to work out a little bit here and not only in Madrid or in Rome,” he anticipated a final against Nadal.
Following Thiem’s victory, Nadal also secured his 11th appearance in the final at Roland Garros after seeing off fifth-seeded Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
“It was a good second and third set for me, and a good hold in the first. Good tactics and mentality in the first set give me the possibility to play much better later in the match,” said Nadal.
Nadal became the second man in the Open Era to reach the final at one Grand Slam event on 11 occasions after Roger Federer, who has reached 11 Wimbledon finals.
“He’s been a very complex opponent, and one of the best players in the world on this surface. I hope that I can win,” Nadal commented on Thiem.