Rafael Nadal ready for 'tough final' against Dominic Thiem on Sunday

Rafael Nadal's French Open set streak ends in quarterfinals

Rafael Nadal's French Open set streak ends in quarterfinals

Juan Martin del Potro believes it's virtually impossible to defeat Rafael Nadal on clay and backed the Spaniard to claim an 11th French Open title in Sunday's final against Dominic Thiem.

Nadal compiled a 35-20 edge in winners while making only 19 unforced errors against del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion.

He did not look unduly affected though and his heavy groundstrokes took a toll on Nadal, who rescued three more break points in the ninth game, one with a sublime drop shot.

He appeared to be in near peak form against del Potro - once the all important first set went in his favor. Injuries have hampered the King of Clay throughout the past year.

With his strong clay court play as of late, Nadal is not necessarily walking into this match the clearcut favorite.

If not, it will be Goodnight Vienna for the man with one of the best single-handed backhands in tennis.

"I am very happy to be back in the final here at Roland Garros".

Thiem led 6-3 but suddenly lost focus.

There were two massive underdogs competing in the men's semifinals at the French Open on Friday.

Victory on Sunday will move Nadal to just three Slams behind his great rival Roger Federer who, at 36, is more than four years older. Moreover, the Swedish former world number one thinks the Argentine can use his height to his advantage to negate the Spaniard's looping shots.

It will also reignite the debate over who is actually the greatest player of all time.

"Forget the 10 (French Open titles) and forget what happened past year, Thiem has to remember what happened in Madrid which is a title Nadal wants to win nearly as much as the French", Wilander, Eurosport's chief analyst, told Reuters. Their discussion took place minutes after del Potro seemed to hurt his left hip during the third game of the match after getting wrong-footed.

Across the way at Court Suzanne Lenglen, No. 5 del Potro got distracted by a spectator right before a key double-fault, then marched over toward the stands to try to figure out who it was. But this will be the first time they've met in a Grand Slam final. In the other semi-final, Marco Cecchinato's odd run in the last two weeks was ended by Dominic Thiem, also in straight sets, although the first two sets were somewhat closer than anything Del Potro could muster.

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

It was the Austrian's third consecutive appearance in the semifinals at Roland Garros.

The No. 1 seed could scarcely have achieved more at the French Open-he has played 87 career matches there and lost just two-but he still has the hunger for more success.

Cecchinato had never won a Grand Slam match before this year's Roland Garros but made the semis with a string of stunning wins. Their semifinal is later Friday.

"For sure", said Thiem's coach, Gunter Bresnik, "this gives you a little hope".

The Grand Slam has had several matches interrupted by rain throughout the past two weeks, including Nadal's quarter-final win over Diego Schwartzman - which had to be played over two days.

The boys' final at the French Open will pit top-seeded Sebastien Baez of Argentina against Chun Hsin Tseng from Taiwan.

In the clay court season, Nadal has already picked up his 11th title at the Monte-Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open and an eighth trophy at the Italian Open. "And Nadal has been doing it for years and years and years".

The other men's match is No. 7 Dominic Thiem of Austria against unseeded Marco Cecchinato of Italy. Juan Martin del Potro took his frustration out on a fan during his quarterfinal Roland Garros encounter with Marin Cilic-though he couldn't quite figure out which spectator to zone in on.

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