Nadal holds serve, reaches 11th final | Professional

Nadal holds serve, reaches 11th final | Professional

He looked hesitant and edgy, as if he might not be able to finish what he started.

Nadal wins his 11th French Open title.

He stopped short for a long moment, searching for his words, but then nodded his head with renewed determination and reeled off the rest of the response.

It was the 24-year-old Austrian's third consecutive appearance in the final four at Roland Garros, after losses to eventual champions Djokovic in 2016 and Nadal in 2017.

For everyone else, however, it has become as normal as the Seine flowing under the Pont des Arts.

There have, however, appeared to be one or two chinks in Nadal's armour at Roland Garros this year.

"What will be important will be to try and make him play in uncomfortable situations", said Moya, the 1998 French Open champion.

Of that set, Thiem said: "If I had lost it, it would have been a very close match".

"I will focus on myself, like I did every match here". And he practices that way too. "And Nadal has been doing it for years and years and years".

Dominic Thiem celebrates his semifinal victory over Marco Cecchinato at the French Open on June 8.

He is at last facing someone from a younger tennis generation instead of contemporaries like Novak Djokovic, 31, or an elder like Roger Federer, who will turn 37 in August. He played some unbelievable aggressive tennis to get through Djokovic in the quarters, just like he played wonderful aggressive tennis to get to the quarters.

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Rafa Nadal believes he still needs to reach an extra level if he is to lift an 11th Roland Garros title this weekend.

The pivotal part of the match was the second-set tiebreaker in which both men played superbly - and both had chances to end it. Thiem went ahead 6-3, but wasted three set points there, including a bad volley into the net at 6-4 that left him chewing ruefully on his left index finger. "I don't feel the pressure now in semifinals", Nadal said.

I'm sticking to my guns in saying the world's second-best clay courter is a 36-year-old Swiss who opted not to play in this event, but Thiem's run to the final has cemented his status as the second-best clay court player who competed here. "I was so nervous before the match because I knew it would be a tough match". If the exchange reflects this when liquidity increases, those odds should be laid: Thiem is likely to serve more aces, but it's also likely that we won't see many aces at all, and Thiem is no certainty to easily outscore Nadal in that department.

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.

"He likes the conditions more here than in Madrid, for sure", said Thiem, who lost in straight sets to Nadal here in the 2017 semifinals.

"I played more aggressive".

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

- One of only three players to have beaten Nadal three or more times on clay - the others are Djokovic and Gaston Gaudio. Nadal's record at Roland Garros now stands at 85 wins and two defeats.

But that was only after Nadal had allowed him just two games in a last-eight mauling in Monte Carlo. Both players dropped serve four times. That's Thiem's best chance.

It was the first time in three years that Nadal had dropped a set in Paris.

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