Mighty Rafa through to yet another Roland Garros final

Rafael Nadal

There was no stopping Rafael Nadal from reaching an 11th career final at Roland Garros on Friday, as he soundly defeated Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets.

While he showed some early fight, Del Potro soon found himself outclassed.

After clinching a decisive break at the end of the first set, Nadal never looked back, racing to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory to set up a final clash with Austria’s Dominic Thiem, who also secured a straight sets victory over his semi-final opponent Marco Cecchinato earlier in the day.

Nadal has had a few slow starts in Paris this year, and once again it was Del Potro applying the early pressure. The Argentine earned three break points on Nadal’s serve in the third game, but the Spaniard was able to save them all and ward off any danger.

Del Potro continued to look competitive and earned another trio of break points with Nadal serving at 4-4, but again the 10-time champion was able to wriggle out of trouble.

And with Del Potro serving to stay in the set at 4-5, his failure to convert any of his six break points came back to bite him. Having failed to earned a single break point throughout the set, Nadal pounced when it mattered.

The Spaniard followed up a backhand passing winner with another winner from the forehand to earn two break points, and then drew the error on the second to snatch the first set in the blink of an eye.

Giving up the set so suddenly seemed to break Del Potro’s resolve. Nadal claimed successive breaks at the start of the second set, a combination of his own superb shot-making and some disappointing errors from Del Potro, to race to a 4-0 lead.

Del Potro was able to save a couple of set points on his own serve but was powerless to prevent Nadal from wrapping up the set in the next game.

And the writing was well and truly on the wall when Del Potro lost his serve again at the start of the third set.

With the Argentine now providing little resistance, Nadal continued his unstoppable march towards victory, securing another break in the fifth game before sealing the win a few games later with a perfectly placed forehand that forced Del Potro to send a backhand return long.

All that stands between Nadal and an incredible 11th Roland Garros crown now is Dominic Thiem, the man who defeated him on his favourite surface earlier this year to end Nadal’s incredible clay-court winning streak.

Whether the young Austrian can repeat the feat on the biggest clay court stage of them all come Sunday, however, remains to be seen.

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