Rafael Nadal route to French Open final: Roger Federer win sets up Dominic Thiem repeat, RAFAEL NADAL route to French Open final: The Spaniard finds himself in his 12th French Open final looking for his 12th title – but how did he get here,
Rafael Nadal’s history with the French Open needs little introduction – the 33-year-old has entered the tournament in 14 years before this one and walked away the winner 11 times.
He is going for a record-extending 12th triumph at Roland Garros this year and is the favourite to do so after another sublime fortnight for the Spaniard in Paris.
Nadal has dropped just one set throughout the two weeks ahead of setting up his showdown in the final with Dominic Thiem today, which the reigning champion has the benefit of having had an extra day’s rest for.
But how exactly did the 17-time Grand Slam champion book his spot in yet another final,
German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann faced an impossible task looking to become the first man to beat Nadal in the first round and was unsurprisingly beaten in straight sets.
That didn’t stop world No 184 Hanfmann claiming the French Open king was “a bit nervous” at the start though. “Great experience for me,” he added.
Another German qualifier awaited after Hanfmann in his compatriot Yannick Maden and Nadal was again comfortably superior.
Nadal’s level dropped somewhat in the third set as he was broken twice but he suffered no major issues.
A more experienced challenge came in round three with Belgian David Goffin taking a set from Nadal exactly 10 years to the day the Spaniard lost to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the same slam.
Nadal’s ground strokes were too much for Goffin despite the third set, which saw the world No 2 drop a set for just the 23rd time in 91 best-of-five matches at Roland Garros, and he recovered to set up a clash with Juan Ignacio Londero.
Argentine Londero had never previously faced Nadal and he might like to avoid doing so again on clay for the future.
The South American was in his first ever main Grand Slam draw but bumped into a supreme Nadal, who overcame slight resistance despite the high winds to make the last eight.
Kei Nishikori was a more familiar opponent in the quarters but Nadal added an 11th win over the Japanese star as he cruised into the final four.
“He made me play every point. Even to get one game, it feel like very long to get just one game,” Nishikori admitted after.
Beating Nishikori allowed Nadal to set up a 39th career showdown with long-time rival Roger Federer and his first meeting with the Swiss in two years.
But more strong gusts of wind helped Nadal to have the upper hand and in a sumptuous display, he inflicted Federer’s heaviest Grand Slam loss in 11 years.
Unbeaten in 11 finals so far, Nadal looks to protect his perfect record in championship matches at the French Open against Thiem.
In a total of 12 meetings, Nadal has won eight but all of his four losses to the Austrian have come on clay – including at the Barcelona Open earlier this year.
The pair met at this same stage last year with Nadal winning 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 and he’ll hope for a repeat result this time around.