Rafael Nadal's French Open set streak ends in quarterfinals

Rafael Nadal's French Open set streak ends in quarterfinals

Del Potro had forced six break points during the first set but Nadal fended each one off.

After dropping the first two sets he played in the opening round, Cecchinato came back to win that match in five sets, then proceeded to string together upsets.

Spaniard Nadal eventually claimed the set with a late break of his own before going on to dominate the rest of the contest, his 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory setting up a showdown with Dominic Thiem for the title on Sunday.

This time, Thiem instead faced Cecchinato, who never had won a Grand Slam match until this tournament and was the lowest-ranked men's semifinalist at the clay-court major in 19 years. For me it's incredible. He beat me in Madrid this year and he has great power. "I have lost a lot of opportunities through injuries and I know the years are going quick, so there is not 10 more chances to keep playing here".

Asked if he felt in "steamroller mode" heading into the final, Nadal said: "I can't tell you, I'm just in the finals".

"It is nearly impossible to beat Rafa", said Del Potro, who had his chances in the semi-final, but failed to convert any of his seven break points before his challenge petered out into tired hopelessness.

Thiem saved three set points in the second before winning an epic tie-break, something for which Cecchinato has become notable this year.

There was a sense of inevitability in the air when Del Potro served at 4-5 and sure enough Nadal turned the screws to grab two set points at 15-40. In the fourth game Friday, del Potro clutched at his left hip after being wrong-footed by one shot from Nadal and was visited by a doctor at the next changeover.

And best of five sets is also a different story.

Nadal, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, claimed his 85th win in Paris against just two losses after weathering a big-hitting opening set from 2009 US Open victor Del Potro to win 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

"To beat Nadal in Paris, on the center court in the finals, I think this is, it's not impossible, but it's maybe one of the biggest (challenges) you can have in tennis". If I had won that break, we could have played a longer match.

Nadal has won all 21 matches he's played from the semi-finals and beyond at the French Open.

Sunday's final will be Nadal's 24th Grand Slam final, putting him second all time.

Cecchinato's career has been tainted by his involvement in a match-fixing scandal; he was banned for 18 months in 2016 before having the suspension overturned.

Thiem then held his serve at love for a 2-0 lead.

But Thiem, 24, was too strong and now believes he has a particularly powerful weapon on his side for the final - breakfast. Thiem beat Marco Cecchinato 7-5, 7-6, 6-1 in his semifinal matchup.

Thiem weathered three set points for Cecchinato, at 7-6, 9-8 and 10-9.

Del Potro had required the doctor early in the first set after appearing to jar his ankle in the red clay.

The second set turned into a tight tactical battle with neither able to break serve. He'll be fully aware of the threat Thiem poses but that should only leave him sharper from the off.

However, having squandered one set point, he went in for a simple backhand volley victor only to dump it into the net.

"When I missed that volley it wasn't a very nice feeling".

"The weather, I watched a bit of footage of the (Robin) Soderling victory over Nadal here in 2009".

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