Rafael Nadal beats Juan Martin del Potro to reach French Open final

Rafael Nadal

Nadal has never failed to win the title when reaching the last four at Roland Garros, but knows that Del Potro, who he has lost to five times, is a unsafe opponent.

Nadal becomes the second player in tennis history to win 11 singles titles at any Grand Slam tournament after Margaret Court, who claimed 11 Australian Open titles.

Cecchinato, who had not won a match in five attempts at a Grand Slam before Roland Garros, fought valiantly against the number seven seed but ultimately the Austrian's star quality shone through to reach his first major final.

Rafael Nadal insisted he still "feels pressure" and is "only human", after battling back from a set down to beat Diego Schwartzman on Thursday and set up a French Open semi-final clash with Juan Martin del Potro.

Once Nadal stole the opener with a break in the 10th game, it was one-way traffic as he left Del Potro trailing in a cloud of Parisian clay dust to set up a final against Dominic Thiem.

"I am sure you will win here in the next couple of years", Nadal told Thiem afterward.

Only three times (once when he withdrew with an injury) has the Mallorcan not reached the French Open final since he first re-defined claycourt tennis in 2005 as a sleeveless warrior. 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 Thiem appeared happy at the prospect of Nadal reaching the final, pointing out that, as the underdog, he would be able to play without fear. After breaking Nadal's serve to take the ninth game, Schwartzman hit a forehand victor at 40-30 to take the first set 6-4.

Nadal has not lost at Roland Garros when taking the first set and that record did not look like coming under threat as he continually rebuffed Thiem's attempts to make inroads into his serve, taking the second courtesy of an early break.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion has been in imperious form in the ongoing clay-court swing of the season, winning 24 and losing just one match.

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The forecast says there is a chance of rain.

"I saved two set points and luckily I won it".

But those are not quite the same as the French Open, where Nadal is 86-2 for his career. Although he lost the first point of the fourth game, a ideal drop shot got Schwartzman to 15-all, and a backhand victor from followed by a drop shot gave Nadal a second break an 4-1 lead.

Nadal won the second set in 53 minutes. I know I have to play my best if I want to have chances.

"He's a big favorite against everybody", Thiem said.

He said: "If I had won the second set, I think it would have been a totally different third set".

"Not a very nice feeling", Thiem said.

He hit a forehand long for 0-30 and then hit another forehand into the net to gift Nadal three set points.

"Today, all day, on Philippe Chatrier, the fans said "Forza, Marco", so I think this is the best moment for me", said Cecchinato."Against Dominic Thiem, he is top 10, and today all the people were for me".

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