'A little hope': Nadal vs Thiem in French Open final

GETTYRafael Nadal is in the French Open quarter-finals

GETTYRafael Nadal is in the French Open quarter-finals

"For me, the motivation to play here always is high, high as possible", said Nadal after breezing past Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in Friday's semi-finals in what was his 85th win in Paris against just two defeats.

"If I had won the second set, I think it would have been a totally different third set", he explained.

Nadal has dropped only one set in the ongoing tournament but he was tested by del Potro's compatriot and 11th seed Diego Schwartzman in a rain-interrupted quarter-final tie.

"In every game that I served, I had problems".

Nadal, who already has more titles at a single Grand Slam than any men's player in history with his 10 French Open wins, can collect his 17th career major with a win Sunday.

"Forget the 10 (French Open titles) and forget what happened past year, Thiem has to remember what happened in Madrid which is a title Nadal wants to win nearly as much as the French", Wilander, Eurosport's chief analyst, told Reuters.

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"True, I understand that everybody here, you have to write things", he said.

The other men's match is No. 7 Dominic Thiem of Austria against unseeded Marco Cecchinato of Italy.

Nadal simply had too much power and consistency for Argentina's fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro in the match that followed.

The 29-year-old missed the event for four straight years before a third-round loss in 2017, but has regained fitness in recent months and reached the semi-finals at the US Open last year, where he lost to Nadal. The French Open, like all Grand Slam tournaments, is best-of-five for men.

Nadal won the first set 6-4.

For example, losers in this year's first round left Paris with €40,000 - a 12.5 per cent jump on last year's €35,000. He took the biggest of big cuts on groundstrokes, his feet leaving the ground as he threw his whole body into them, as if the very outcome - not of any individual point, but the whole shebang - depended on the strength of that one whip of his white racket. After a tough first set, Nadal jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second set and rolled, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

Nadal will retain the world number one ranking if he wins - but that will be the last thing on his mind.

Del Potro has had one of the best starts to a season in the ongoing year (28-6), winning back-to-back titles in Acapulco and Indian Wells during which he had stitched a 15-match unbeaten run.

Time and time again opponents have failed to find a formula to beat the top seed, who strides onto Court Philippe Chatrier like he owns it.

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic have won the French Open for their first Grand Slam title in women's doubles.

Rafael Nadal bids for his record-extending 11th French Open championship when he faces Dominic Thiem in the final.

Del Potro, the US Open victor in 2009, is playing the tournament for only the second time since 2012 after a spate of injuries.

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