Nadal prepares for complex Thiem challenge

ImageThe two men’s quarterfinals scheduled for Wednesday were suspended because

He takes on rising tennis star Dominic Thiem for the title.

World number one Nadal went into Friday's clash with a 9-5 career record against Del Potro, including all three meetings on clay.

While many great warriors have tried to end his rule in Paris, few have come close.

The 37-set run was Nadal's longest at the French Open.

There was cause for concern, also, when Nadal quit with a leg injury in the fifth set of his quarter-final against Marin Cilic at the Australian Open this year, heightened when he then withdrew from hard-court tournaments in Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami - but he has blossomed on the red dirt of Europe.

Nadal should be favourite, of course - his experience of the big stage and pre-eminence at the French Open presents a significant obstacle for his young opponent to overcome - but it's important not to overstate Nadal's dominance. Applying this to Sunday's final, we might expect to see three or four sets, but are less likely to see five.

But Thiem is confident he has the tactical nous to sprint an upset.

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

"I played more aggressive", Nadal said, adding: "In my opinion, the match changed, no?" "I have a plan and". I always hear from players that in a match they will do it differently, but if you don't practice that way, you are not going to do it in the heat of the battle.

"It's the same old refrain with Rafael Nadal but there's two things I keep on hearing in analysis about beating him".

'But I'm also aware that here it's tougher. For sure he is beatable, but you have to have the level, and Dominic has the level and you have to play the ideal match and the most important thing is you can't miss the occasions that you have.

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The Austrian will be encouraged by the efforts of others in the earlier rounds.

Bresnik has taken plenty of flak through the years for pushing Thiem to play such a dense tournament schedule, but the coach has long insisted that it is part of a master plan to build a resilient champion.

Coincidentally, the only time he has looked in any danger was on day 11 when Diego Schwartzman, the 11th seed, took the only set of the tournament off him.

"He is a nightmare opponent for Nadal", Wilander said about Del Potro, as quoted on Tennis World USA. "Good tactics and mentality in the first set give me the possibility to play much better later in the match", said Nadal.

"It was a good second and third set for me, and a good hold in the first". "That's why I got angry with someone". When I'm serving, should be in my hands but I gave too many chances to him to have the break. "And if he can maintain his desire, I think he can win many more times".

Importantly, Thiem should be fresh. Del Porto's last win against the Spaniard came at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

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

Mentally is another question.

Dominic Thiem stands between the Spaniard and Grand Slam glory at Roland Garros.

He didn't stop there, such was his extended praise for the recently turned 32-year-old.

Thiem's massive forehand allowed him to race into a 5-2 lead in the tiebreak. We have a special relationship because of that match. — Halep, after claiming her maiden Grand Slam title.

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