Nadal v Del Potro, Thiem v Cecchinato In French Open SFs; Who’s The Pick?
by Sean Randall | June 7th, 2018, 5:09 pm
  • 94 Comments

So down to four. We have Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin Del Potro and then Marco Cecchinato! Marco who? That’s right. Marco Cecchinato. An impossible pick to reach this spot, but there he is, a guy who had never won a Grand Slam match before.

A guy who was lucky to not have been busted for match-fixing some years ago. A guy who cruised past Pablo Carreno Busta, overwhelmed David Goffin and just showed more fight than Novak Djokovic. That’s Marco Ceccinato. And that’s our final four at the biggest clay court event on the calendar.

As for today’s rain-delayed quarterfinals from the top half, things wrapped up as we would have thought.

Rafa was under serious pressure in the slop early against Diego Schwartzman, down a set and a break before the rains. Obviously, the delay affected the Argentine, but it’s hard to say if that had it not rained, Diego could have actually finished him off. Maybe? Maybe not?

Diego had the momentum and had Rafa on his heels, something we rarely see at Roland Garros. So give Schwartzman a lot of credit for the fight and for handing Rafa his first set loss in three years. For a little guy, he packs a punch and really took it to Rafa who, in the muddy conditions, couldn’t generate his nasty spins and pace.

Well, sadly for the Schwartzman the sun was out today in full force and Rafa rolled 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

After, Rafa talked about the early issues.

“I was not opening court with the backhand. I was playing too behind the baseline. He was taking the ball earlier than me,” Nadal said. “I had the feeling he had the control of the point too many times to have the chance to be successful. And then I think after that I changed, I increased the intensity, increased the determination on how to play my shots. I won a little bit of court playing closer to the baseline, so the match changed drastically.”

Schwartzman agreed.

“It’s always tough against Rafa. Totally focused, plays 100 percent tennis. Yesterday I was doing many winners, not many unforced errors. He was not playing his best tennis. Maybe it was the day when you can beat Rafa,” Schwartzman said. “Today he started playing totally different. Aggressive, doing winners, no mistakes. So the match changed a lot.”

So Rafa moves on to an 11th French semifinal (most players don’t even play 11 French Opens!).

On Lenglen, Del Potro and Cilic resumed in a precarious spot, 5-all in the first set breaker. Delpo got both points and the first set, then held on for a tough 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 victory.

With Rafa playing at the same time the match wasn’t on TV, but credit to Delpo for coming from a break down in the third. The difference probably comes down to the fact that going into the match Delpo had won 7 straight over the Croat. 7!! Well, it’s now 8!

Recall Del Potro might not have even played the French due to that groin injury from Rome. Yet here he is in his first French semifinal in nine years since 2009! After all he had been through the last 4-5 years, he even teared-up after the match.

“I’m feeling so, so happy that I made the right decision for play here,” said Del Potro. “I am doing well. Of course, I didn’t expect to get in semifinals a couple of weeks before. But now I’m here, and I’m still alive. Physically I’m good, and hopefully I can be ready for tomorrow.

“Everybody knows that I was close to quitting this sport two years ago, but I never give up. I have been trying and trying every day to fix the problem in my wrist. And in the end, I got it, and now I’m having a great present, looking forward for the future. Of course, I didn’t expect to be in the Top 5 again, to reach semifinals at the big tournament after all my injuries.”

Good to have Delpo back!

So to the semifinals tomorrow.

Dominic Thiem v Marco Cecchinato
For the incredible effort and all the great wins, you just have to think Cecchinato’s run ends here. Is anyone picking him here to win?

And after losses in this round the last two years to Djokovic and Nadal, Thiem is never going to a better chance at reaching the final of a Grand Slam than Friday, and because of that, and with the way the Austrian’s playing, he will take advantage of it.

“I won the last match against Thiem, I think, I remember this match, it was the final in one Future,” Cecchinato said referring to a Futures win. “Why not? I want to believe I can also beat Dominic Thiem.”

And that’s a great attitude to have. But Thiem has been pounding the ball all week. And if it is a little wet and heavy, that should help.

My only concern is that he has been in this spot twice before – and failed – and he’s going to be such a big favorite. So the pressure is going to be on Thiem big time, while Cecchinato can just swing freely much like he has been doing.

“I’m a better player in general now, for sure,” said Thiem. “I think this year I’m physically and mentally fresher than I have been the last two years. I know how to handle a Grand Slam now, how to get that deep in such a tournament, and I think everything gets better with experience.”

Experience and form should win here.
The Pick: Thiem in 3

Rafael Nadal v Juan Martin Del Potro
In their 15th meeting, Nadal has won nine including the US Open semifinals last fall. They’ve only met a couple times on the clay, most recently way back at the end of 2011 during the Davis Cup final, and Rafa’s won both.

The key Friday will really be how healthy Del Potro is. I don’t care much about the conditions – Schwartzman is a roadrunner, Delpo isn’t it’s two different matchups – but I care about Delpo’s legs.

If Delpo’s ok after going nearly four hours the last two days, he’ll be in with a chance. If he isn’t it will be over quick.

We know Rafa will be fit – he wasn’t under much pressure Thursday against Schwartzman – so this match hinges in Delpo. If he is good, he can do some damage and use his awesome power to go at Rafa. Serve, forehand, backhand etc.

Of course on clay, it won’t be as easy to pound those winners. So Delpo’s going to have to work a little more than on hard court. And the longer the point, the more of an issue for Delpo who doesn’t want to be moving side-to-side, like a Schwartzman would happily do. Delpo is a quick-strike guy.

“Diego and me have completely different games. I mean, one of his best are his legs, his movement on the clay,” Delpo said. “And I like to play short points, hitting flat, even the surface.

“But tomorrow I will try to play a match as I did in a different surface against Rafa, but he’s lefty and what I say before my match against Ramos, a lefty player has advantage with me because he can find easily my backhand, and he knows what my backhand is at the moment.

“But anyways, I will try to do my best, to play my best tennis, and see if I can do a good match.”

Yup, Rafa forehand to the Delpo backhand is advantage Rafa!

Another problem is best-of-5. In a three set match, Delpo could certainly get hot, get on a run, etc. But best-of-5, on clay, against Rafa in the semifinals of a Slam where Rafa’s so darn tough is asking a lot. Delpo couldn’t do it in New York so I just don’t see how on clay and in Roland Garros gives him a better chance.

Again, Delpo has to go for broke. But it won’t be enough.
The Pick: Rafa in 4

So what would be the bigger surprise, Marco winning or Delpo? I might have to say Marco. I just can’t see Thiem screwing this one up – if he did it could do some serious long-term damage.

As for Delpo, the guy has shown he can win big matches. But I just don’t think his legs are going to be there.

That said, Rafa has to lose sometime…(maybe it’s Sunday!)


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94 Comments for Nadal v Del Potro, Thiem v Cecchinato In French Open SFs; Who’s The Pick?

rognadfan Says:

Don’t think Rafa losing to Delpo at RG. He could’t do it at US, he will certainly be less effective here. So, me says unlikely; although I really want him to win a big one some of these times.
That said, Theim (I am preassuming he will be there on Sunday) has shown could beat Rafa, but will he? in RG final? I am finding it really hard to bring that scenario to my head. In a match of such magnitude, Rafa would play too focused and go with money shot after money shot of his (FH-BH) until Theim starts paying him. And it’s clear as day for everyone what’s the Achilles heel for Thiem. Rafa will shoot right to the heels again and again and again and again….and then few times more and then again..well, you got the point.


chofer Says:

Rafa-Thiem

With Thiem having a shot if they play under heavy conditions. Having a shot doesn’t mean favorite. Mean the only one who can beat him under certain circunstamces. YES. In a final.

If the court is like today, in 5 sets I just don’t see it.

Delpo tomorrow will be lucky to get a set. Unless he suffers from amnesia of his last two matches. Then, he could take one.


Nitesh Says:

Ingredients for beating Rafa at french open
1) Wet conditions
2) Hesitant Rafa
3) A guy going for his shorts and keeping them between the lines most of the times


Nitesh Says:

If any of ingredients is missing you cannot beat him


Margot Says:

Hi RZ! I see you went for Team Thiem to the final! Well done you. I wasn’t impressed with him in Lyons, yeah I know he won but, and thought he’d overplayed. Silly me, no amend that – very silly me! See you didn’t back him to win tho…..;)


kjb Says:

Rafas only 2 losses this year have both come the match after beating Diego……..


Willow Says:

Delpo is always a dangerous player for Rafa, however this is Rafa on his best surface, agree with Rogernad fan and Chofers summary, cant see Marco ( wont even try to spell his surname ) beating DT over 5 sets, IMO beating Novak wouldve taken too much out of his emotionally ….


FedExpress Says:

Thiem returning pos. WTF.

Returning from mars. And only ball bashing which works today but on other days he is a UE machine.


FedExpress Says:

Thiem you mug.

3 break back points after he should have led by a double break


FedExpress Says:

And nettes a simple put away at the net

broken


gonzalowski Says:

Cecchinato breaks back 4-4…
An article in RG page by Guga Kuerten, “sees parallels in Cecchinato run” with his.

Nice to see Delpo on RG Sfs after years of physical problems, best luck for him. But well, I hope Rafa wins today… yesterday Delpo played 2h.40′, he won’t be as fresh as he should.


FedExpress Says:

If Thiem cant reach the final today he never will. Golden chance he mugs it up.


FedExpress Says:

First set Thiem


Willow Says:

I Very much doubt Marco could beat 3 top players B2B, i think DTs the only player with a chance over Rafa or Delpo ….


FesExpress Says:

Why is Thiem returning so far back? Why?


gonzalowski Says:

FE, has he learned from the master?


FesExpress Says:

I got my answer. He tried to return close to the line. He was useless.


Daniel Says:

FE,

Thiem’s return is very heavy and deep, Its a classic clay return to the middle of the court. Note that most of the time when he got his range right, opponent s can’t to much with it.

kjb,

Also, Delpo reached semis in RG 2009, 2 Slams later won first title in USO. Delpo reaches semis in USO 2017, 2 Slams later….?!?!?;-)


Daniel Says:

Cecci played 5 tiebreaks in RG this year and only lost 1.


Daniel Says:

WTF Thiem, 6-3 and 2 volley misses.


Willow Says:

The quality of tennis from both is beautiful to watch, DT does everything that little bit better though, possibly be done in three tight sets, rather hoping Marco can back a set to make it into a great competitive match though ….


Daniel Says:

Huf, tut was tense. Thieme will serve first third set, adding extra pressure in Cecci


skeezer Says:

Rafa is smiling.


Daniel Says:

Huf, tut was tense. Thiem will serve first third set, adding extra pressure in Cecci


Daniel Says:

Cecci gone away mentally after tiebreak. Thiem safe for a straight set win to reach his first Slams final. Thiem only lost 1 set to Kei in last 4 rounds and all convincing wins.


Daniel Says:

Quick update for ranking race:

1 – Nadal 3.760 (can reach 5.040 with title)
2 – Zverev 3.495
3 – Federer 3.110
4 – Delpo 3.020 (can reach 4.300 with title)
5 – Thiem 2.985 (can reach 3.785 with title)
6 – Cilil 2.370

It will be a 6 man race fir year end #1 with all of them having chance, one of top 5 for sure will be #1. Cilic has a chance but he will need a minimum finals in Wimbledon again.

Nadal winning RG as expected he will have a 1600 pts leads, one of his least leads ever after RG. Any scenario where he doesn’t win RG either Thiem or DelPo and the race will be even more competitive.


Daniel Says:

Yeah, first next gen to reach a Slam final. Let’s see if he will join the club of first time winners with first Slam match.


el_matador Says:

daniel,kjb..
as a liverpool fan,I found at least 10 coincidences that our fanbase dug out to show that we would win the ucl final vs madrid..but it wasn’t meant to be..hope u 2 are right about delpo..vamos!


Daniel Says:

0-30 and DelPo don’t even make it to deuce.


FedExpress Says:

Oh delpo. So many chances on rafas serve. You have to take them when you get them. It may be too late later on.


Daniel Says:

C’mon Delpo, 0-30 first game, than 0-40 next game and he loses all points after. He is not gonna have this chances again as Nadal gets better and better each game.


FedExpress Says:

Delpo injured again?!?!?! Wtff?!?!?!


FedExpress Says:

@Daniel

Against Federer he would have hit a massive bomb FH to break him


el_matador Says:

0-40 & yet cant break..& maybe he’s injured too..I should stop watching this match


FedExpress Says:

Just retire Delpo. You wont win anything today


Daniel Says:

At least he is serving big.

Indeed FedEx or he would bomb the return as he did in USO vs Fed. Today he is too cautions on returns


Daniel Says:

Again 0-30


el_matador Says:

just cut the crap fedex..he will know whether he has to retire or continue pkmlaying..u dnt have to lecture him..& he’s not in the court to cement ur feddy darling’s legacy..he’s there for himself & his fans..u come back when ur feddy darling is playing


Daniel Says:

No fire in DelPo at all, but we’ve seen him play this card before. Hard to guess. But he should be more intense in this games, 3 straight games Nadal open 0-30 and he couldn’t do nothing after.


skeezer Says:

If Delpo can keep his serve on point like he is doing he’lll be competitive in this match.


Willow Says:

Fedexpress why dont you try cheering for a player rather than against one for a change ….


RZ Says:

Busy morning on my end but a quick check in to say yay for Dom!
Margot – a lot of people thought Thiem playing Lyon was a mistake, but he had actually played far fewer matches on clay and overall this year than in previous years, so I wasn’t concerned about that. And his draw looked good through the final. I didn’t think he’d lose to Tsitsipas or Zverev twice in a row on clay. Now can our boy win one more?


FedExpress Says:

BPs again. Will he convert now?

Clearly the better player.


Daniel Says:

Every FH he missed today was on Break Point.


Daniel Says:

At least this game his returns are more intense, 3 BPs gone


el_matador Says:

its hope that kills..


FedExpress Says:

Ffs delpo


Daniel Says:

Guess who will break to win the set after this game?


FedExpress Says:

Now see Nadal break Delpos service game to win the set.


FedExpress Says:

Never in doubt

0-30.

What a lucker this nadal is.


Daniel Says:

Indeed Nadal is a bit lucky today, this ball landed exactly in the baseline and DelPo missed. He send a ballon after a huge FH by DelPo and lands in.


el_matador Says:

God must be a comedian..& quite a bad one..


FedExpress Says:

Hahahaha. Delpo loses the first set that was nid. Again chances in the first game and cant take.


Daniel Says:

When Delpo go for the kill shot he has success when he laying trying to make Nadal miss eventually Nadal changes the dynamics. He has to go for the lines, its the only way.

Nadal only had 1 easy hold in 5 service games but won’t got broken, this will frustrate DelPo as the match progressess


FedExpress Says:

Delpo lost the match already. Same story. You dont take chances you get punished.

3 BPs rafa

Retire delpo. Just retire.


Daniel Says:

This is why that 4-4 15-40 game was so important. From that moment on, it’s all Nadal. 4-0.

It’s better not even have those games.


FedExpress Says:

Break rafa.

One way traffic from now on.


FedExpress Says:

Every big chance delpo mugs up it makes the IW and USO loss harder to accept.


Daniel Says:

And Nadal didn’t miss a single drop shot today, impossible.


Daniel Says:

Off to work. Hope the final is better, at least for 9 games it was a good match.


gonzalowski Says:

very good match from Rafa, but not great tennis as he often plays on RG… hope for Thiem if Rafa reachs final.
0 from 7 BPs Delpo.
5 games in a row Rafa now


Margot Says:

Just turned on to see JMDP not doing so well :( 3-0 in the 2nd set. Rafa exposing all the weaknesses in JMDP’s back hand.


FedExpress Says:

What a useless mug Delpo has turned out to be. Fights for every point vs Fed (most of the matches went the distance) and vs Nadal he surrenders.

Thiem has to save tennis on sunday. But I doubt he will.


Margot Says:

JMDP is serving something like 79% first serves and still can’t win his service games. Baffling. Schwartzman gave Rafa more problems, another mystery.


el_matador Says:

delpo has beaten rafa in an olympic semi,us open semi,1000 masters semi among other matches..this french open,nobody expected delpo to reach even the 2nd week based on his fitness & recent clay records..yet here he is,losing to the greatest clay court player in the multiverse..& where’s the GOAT?..skipping clay in the fear of coming up against rafa & getting spanked..
& btw,why are u bringing fed again & again in a rafa-delpo match?better take a picture of ur feddy darling & jerk off to it


skeezer Says:

Yeah Margot surprising actually. It is what Delpo is doing after his serve that is telling. Not much. It’s obvious who is the better mover on Clay. Rafa just knows how to play chess on the Clay like no other


Margot Says:

Also loads and loads of UEs skeeze, as he tries to be ultra aggressive with his forehand. And the crowd goes mad as JMDP gets deuce on Rafa’s serve…..


Van Persie Says:

Rafa’s tarf :)
Had no expectation from DelPo to win this. Wad unexpected for me to see him play semifinals here.
Watch out for DelPo on hard courts!
In 2009 he played semis at the FO and won the US Open.;)
Should also have a good run at Wimbly.


Van Persie Says:

Margot,

Rafa vs Dom it is ;)


Daniel Says:

Damm that was fast!

Delpo looked odd, as if he was happy to be there already.

A believe Thiem will pose a much better fight. He is more mature and seema ready. Only player to have last 2 clays wins over Nadal in 2 years.

Weather for Sunday mostly couldy. Similar than today with less sun. Rain only of the match prolonga too much.


Yy Says:

FE, save tennis or save your pathetic self?


Van Persie Says:

Daniel,

He did not recover after the match against Cilic. I feard worse. No bagel, all good :)


SG1 Says:

I also sense that Wimbledon will be good to DelPo. Would be awesome to a see a Fed-DelPo final on grass. Lots of fireworks.


RZ Says:

I may be one of the few Thiem fans who is happy he is playing Rafa in the final rather than DelPo. I don’t think Thiem is going to win, but I think his odds against Rafa are better than against DelPo. I think that US Open match that he should have won would still haunt Thiem if he were up against DelPo. Against Rafa, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain, so he can go all out.


chofer Says:

People

Delpo was moving bad the last two matches. Considering he had a groin tear in his QF match against Goffin in Rome (10 days of recuperation) HE BARELY had a chance to get to the first round. Add days of no practice before and this SF its really good. I didn’t think he had a chance against Rafa when not physically 100%. But he did serve much better than the last two matches.

I don’t know, considering all this, why such high expetactions. I’m pretty sure Delpo is not mad. He was a minute from skipping the tournament!!

He’ll be much better for Wimbledon.


Margot Says:

VP: Eeeeeek! Not sure I agree with RZ, but C’mon Dom! I don’t think he’ll win either but do hope he can fight a good fight till the very last ball is struck. All you can ask.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Well, that was anticlimactic. If your movement is hampered on clay, Rafa will club you like a baby seal in Labrador. OK, his movement was terrible, but would have liked to see some of his famous shotmaking at least.

Rafa looks like a well-oiled machine right now. Doing everything well, just seems calm, totally in the zone and able to construct points how he wants to.

Thiem was probably the only one in the draw with a shot, so we get the best possible finals.


Van Persie Says:

Margot,

Agree, Thiem would have been fave against DelPo on clay. Would be happy for Thiem, if he won the final but this is a huuuge task.


Daniel Says:

For Thiem is all about the first set. The 3 matches he won (all on clay) out of the 9 they played (all on clay), when he won the first set he won the match.
Today he was returning way behind and Cecci using a lot of drop shots on second ball, similar to what Nadal did to DelPo very sucessfully.

I am curious to which startegy he will choose early on Sunday: if he will go with the heavy return far away or step in as he did in Madrid and attack returns more to take time away from Nadal?


Margot Says:

Daniel: If he steps in and starts winning points, he’ll be fine, but if he starts losing with that strategy, no doubt he’ll return to his comfort zone….and lose!


RZ Says:

Margot and VP – I didn’t see the Rafa-DelPo match so I wasn’t awre of how Delpo’s movement was. If DelPo went into the final injured, then Thiem could have won. But consider that his bad loss to DelPo at the US Open included an injured/ill DelPo and he ended up losing a match that he should have easily won. I bet that still haunts him, so no knowing how well he would have done mentally against DelPo.


j-kath Says:

Delpo startled Rafa 1st set – once Rafa re-arranged and utilised his weapons it was a done deal….a bit like “Wha dare meddle wi Me”.

Thiem will be more competitive – 4 sets on Sunday? Winner? Rafa is a force majeure – no way would I bet against him.


chofer Says:

Mentally, it’s Djokovic or Thiem who has chances against Rafa. Physically, it’s Thiem. How? I don’t f**know! I still think he has to hammer that one handed BH easily with his serve or crosscourt FH. I still think Averev is a more dangerous proposition in clay due to the variety of his BH.

But Zverev is no lonfer here. And Thiem it’s still the last man to win on clay against him. So.. We will see how steely the Austrian is.

Rafa get much more confident AFTER the first set today, that he was unbeatable. HENCE, the only two options of a Thiem win to me are:

1) If the conditions are heavy
2) If Thiem wins in straights Like he did before)

Or a combination of the two.

Otherwise, there’s not a chance.


Daniel Says:

Yeah Margot,

The problem for Thimmy boy is that if his go for broke agrression is missfiring, he will be in trouble. But than again, this is why they play for, to produce their best tennis in a Slam final.

He has the ultimate tennis conundrum ahead of him: beat an in form healthy Nadal in a RG final.

Agree chofer, but still think he can do it if it goes to 4th set also. Not just straight set. Fifth so far never happened.

Nadal is starting slow several of his matches this tourney. Today had DelPo string a few routine FH in 2 of the sevela BP’s he had ealry on he could have lost a set, similar to USO. But once he was resisting and was able to take the lead he grew, hitting those FH DTL at will.

Thiem needs first set and keep Nadal unconfortable for the majority of the match. Maybe he is just a tinny bit worried with Thiem kwoung he beat him in Rome last year and this year Madrid. On paper, it is the worst opponent for him in RG final right now.


Daniel Says:

Weather for Sunday 3 pm final is:
- Storms (70% chance of rain) till 5 pm
- Than scattered storms from 5 to 7 pm (40% chance of rain)
- Than cloudy from 7 pm to 9 pm (20 % chance of rain).

So, a big chance match may be delayed and those rain break interruptions. Probably starting with heavier conditions than today’s matches.

Let’s see.


Daniel Says:

Weather can change also, For todays that prior 48 hours forecast was abd and todays was mainly sunny, partially cloud. Sunday morning is similar conditons and it may leap to afternoon during finals


Willow Says:

All gravy for Rafa at this GS, nothing to prove, looking forward to watching this final, said before it started wouldnt be surprised if he won or lost this time, would love him to win it again as all fans do with their favorites, but if he doesnt , it will be because DT was better, hope its a cracker ….


Daniel Says:

Think will be Nadal in 4. Till sombedoy actually beat him there, 6 players tried and failed: Puerta, Federer, Soderling, Djoko, Ferrer, Wawrinka, you just can’t go agaisnt him.

Maybe Thiem is lucky #7;-)


Willow Says:

Daniel when does Queens start ?


Okiegal Says:

@Giles………. Thanks for the Twitter link….. that stat is a big WOWZER!💪💪


Daniel Says:

Williw,

Nottingam and Stutgart next week. Queens and Halle the week after, June 18th.


skeezer Says:

Grass……..can hardly wait. Tradition is back!


Willow Says:

Daniel thanks same day as my wedding anniversary ;-)


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