Relentless Rafa closes in on 10th Roland Garros crown

Spanish great Rafa Nadal is one victory away from an unprecedented 10 Roland Garros title after defeating Austrian Dominic Thiem in straight sets on Friday.

Nadal won 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 in a little over two hours to set up a blockbuster final with World No 3 Stan Wawrinka.

The recent head-to-head history between Nadal and Thiem suggested fans were in for a potentially explosive contest – the fourth between the two players in little over a month.

As dominant as Nadal has been on clay this season, Thiem was unquestionably his most credible challenger. The Austrian went all the way in both Barcelona and Madrid before losing to Nadal in the finals, but then handed the King of Clay a rare defeat in the quarter-finals in Rome.

But while Thiem had his chances against Nadal on Friday, the Spaniard was never truly in danger during the convincing straight sets victory, as he showed once again why he's the greatest clay court player of all time.

Nadal will now head into Sunday's final considerably fresher than his opponent Stan Wawrinka, who endured a gruelling four-and-a-half-hour battle with Andy Murray earlier in the day.

The initial signs were very encouraging for Thiem, as he and Nadal immediately became engaged in a heated battle for dominance.

The Austrian broke his opponent's serve in the very first game of the match, although Nadal hit back to level the scores with a break of his own immediately after.

Thiem then earned two more break points in game three but Nadal was crucially able to save them both.

When the same was asked of Thiem in the next game as Nadal earned several more break points, he relented under the pressure, an unforced error handing Nadal a second break for a 3-1 lead.

Again Thiem had chances to break back in the next game, but again he could not make them stick, as Nadal produced a superb rearguard effort to neutralise any danger.

Those missed opportunities would prove costly for Thiem, as Nadal eventually found his footing on serve and stopped coughing up break points.

After that fierce opening battle, the Spaniard would clinch the first set with a minimum of fuss, before converting his third break point early in the second set for a 2-1 lead.

By now, Nadal was starting to take the match by the scruff of the neck, bullying Thiem off the court.

The Austrian was powerless to prevent Nadal coast to a two-set lead courtesy of that early break, and the writing was very much on the wall by that stage.

Thiem looked deflated and somewhat defeated in the third set, as Nadal broke three times to bring the match to a hasty conclusion and return to the final in Paris for the first time since 2014.

Standing between Nadal and a 10th Roland Garros title is Wawrinka, the 2015 champion.

"I have been playing a great event but Stan has been playing unbelievable," said Nadal.

"I saw him play earlier and he hit the ball super hard. I need to be at my best."

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