Thiem advances to first final, to face Nadal

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But I'm also aware that here it's tougher.

Rafael Nadal lost his first set at the French Open since 2015 but that blip did not prevent the 10-times champion from marching into the semi-finals with a 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory over Diego Schwartzman in their rain-delayed match on Thursday. In fact, on Friday's semi-final, his forehand speed was more than 10 kph faster than it had been throughout the tournament.

The victor will play either seventh seed Dominic Thiem, who appears in his third straight semi-final in Paris or Italian Marco Cecchinato, who will hope to continue his dream run having beaten former champion Novak Djokovic in the last round. I am so proud to be playing tennis.

Nadal is 85-2 here. Conversely, Nadal broke Del Potro five times.

It was however, in the second set where the outcome of the match was truly decided. The victor of these meetings ended up in the final each time and won three of the four Slams.

Nadal has remained relatively unimpressed.

Former Roland Garros junior champion Cilic, bidding to reach the semi-finals for the first time after falling in the quarter-finals 12 months ago, kept his nose in front in the fourth. I believe I can be ready for that final. "Of course, the rain helped stop the match and helped me think about the match, and that's a reality".

"I don't want to sound arrogant". Still being here is something I never dreamed about.

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"For sure, I can take some things off that, " Thiem said. It would be even more arrogant to think that all this is normal. I mean, the crowd are fantastic, and that happens very often. It turned up early on in memorable little spots such as when he throttled Andre Agassi at the 2006 Wimbledon, saw the crowd fete Agassi upon his farewell, fielded a question about whether he felt slighted or vilified and said, earnestly, "Is his day".

Nadal wins his 11th French Open title. Here, after reporters leave the interview room, he remembers to thank the stenographers.

I'll be back tomorrow to assess the ladies final, and again on Sunday to preview the men's final - I fully expect it to be Nadal v Thiem, but we shall see if Messrs Del Potro and Cecchinato can do anything about this.

Every stat pointed toward Nadal being the superior player on Friday, though, especially on serve. However, I said that I'd be shocked if Cecchinato defeated Djokovic, and he managed that feat, so the Italian clay-courter can not be completely written off in advance. He looks nearly as hungry or even hungrier than when he won it the first time.

"You know, you have a lot in (your) favour". "You feel the sport and you appreciate". "And Nadal has been doing it for years and years and years". "That does not mean I would not love to be wrong, " he said.

In brighter and quicker conditions than those of Wednesday, Nadal's experience told as he came out more aggressively and swept away his 5' 7' opponent, who had made such a gallant run to the last eight. I started with 16 [years old] on the tour, so already 32.

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.

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