Thiem for a change? Or same old Nadal script?

Nadal walks off court for the second time due to rain in Paris

Nadal is going for title number 11 at Roland Garros. Both men are at stages in their career that have previously been points of great decline for the greats who came before them.

Having faced Nadal six times since the start of 2017 season, Thiem is hopeful of causing one of the biggest French Open upsets on Sunday.

Nadal, by contrast, 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 the Argentinian netted.

"It was a tough first set with opportunities for Juan Martin, I am fortunate that I won the first set and then I played more aggressively", Nadal, who equals Roger Federer's feat of reaching the final of a single Slam 11 times, said on court as fans chanted "Viva Espana".

Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem reached his first Grand Slam final by beating unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato in three sets at Roland Garros. Still, I know how to play against him.

"I would serve underarm every time and hit only drop shots", Noah said.

"This extra thing I have to give, I feel I have it inside me, but I have to go and get it". But I get closer to them, just asking who was it? 'I can't give him the game. It is his most one-sided final win since allowing Federer just four games in the 2008 final.

Thiem's growing expertise on clay, as well as his recent winning form, should warn Nadal this final will be far from easy. "I'm going to play with my highest passion and love for the game, and for the sport, to try to have success".

Now comes what del Potro called "the challenge that every player wants to have" - taking on Nadal at Roland Garros. Thiem and Nadal have battled back and forth throughout the 2018 ATP World Tour. "So I can't think about that". "I need to regenerate and have a good breakfast to keep up my good level".

Too good for almost everyone, nearly every time, on clay.

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However, those victories were in best-of-three-set contests and Thiem has never conquered Nadal in a five-setter.

Thiem is responsible for both of those losses - at Rome in May 2017, and at Madrid last month - which at least lends a little intrigue to Sunday's proceedings.

But Thiem has shown himself to be the biggest threat to Nadal's utter dominance on his favoured surface and he's the only player to beat him over the past two years.

In Saturday's women's final, number one Simona Halep of Romania will face number 10 Sloane Stephens of the United States.

The last time Del Potro contended a Grand Slam final, he won it at the 2009 US Open.

Cecchinato, who was banned for match-fixing in 2016, had never won a match in the French Open prior to this year's edition. Faltering even slightly "is not something that is happening very often with him, but the way he's been playing the last three sets yesterday and the last two sets today, is gonna help his confidence".

"We have the burden of debt, so we will not be able to continue increasing prize money at the rhythm of previous years", said FFT chief Bernard Giudicelli.

"It's hard to better the performance he had past year here", Moya said of Nadal's 2017 masterpiece.

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

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