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Plenty have gone in with sound tactical plans against the 16-times Grand Slam champion in Paris but when the forehand bombardment begins, the best-laid plans usually fall apart as was the case in Friday's semi-final when Nadal thrashed Juan Martin del Potro who many thought posed a credible threat.

The second semi-final match of Roland Garros 2018 will not start before 3:30 pm local time, 7 pm IST and 2:30 pm BST.

In greenback terms that comes out at $2.6m, making it the smallest winner's prize of the year's four Grand Slam events and almost $1m less than the richest tournament the US Open which paid its 2017 winners - Nadal and Sloane Stephens - $3.7m each.

The No. 7-seeded Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria, is appearing in his first Grand Slam final.

Cecchinato, who up until this year's Roland Garros never got past the first round of a Grand Slam event, did not look the same in the third set, as he hit just one victor, committing eight unforced errors.

Under pressure at the outset, Rafael Nadal already had cast aside three break points in his French Open semifinal's third game when, at 4-all, Juan Martin del Potro held another three.

The seventh seed lost to Nadal at the semi-final stage in the French capital previous year however and will be in uncharted territory when he plays the defending champion.

The Austrian was the only man to beat 10-times Paris champion Rafael Nadal on clay this season. "I am so proud to be here playing my tennis in front of you (the crowd) and I feel at home here", he added.

"He's an fantastic player", Nadal said.

A fourth set point for Thiem vanished because of one of Cecchinato's many drop shots. But after the loss, I go a little bit down mentally and physically.

The fifth seed, who stunned Roger Federer to win the 2009 US Open at the age of 20, said he never imagined that the likes of the 20-time Grand Slam champion and Nadal would still be standing in his path at major tournaments nearly a decade later.

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The clay courts of Roland Garros host the second Grand Slam of the season.

The forecast says there is a chance of rain.

Thiem‚ who was playing in his third successive French Open semi-final‚ admitted the second set had been a nervy encounter after needing five set points to get through it.

However, he quickly recovered and looked to have the ascendancy, but the Argentine let six break-point chances slip and Nadal pounced with a solitary break in the 10th game which was enough to allow him to seal the set after 54 minutes of high-octane action. I'm not sure if Thiem and Rafa had a run in the Bois de Boulogne that Rafa would win.

Against del Potro, Nadal did not record a single ace and converted only 61 percent of his first serves. But I know how to play against him.

"He's a big favorite against everybody", Thiem said.

In Madrid, Thiem said the key was to be positive against Nadal.

"Everybody knows that I was close to quitting this sport two years ago, but then I, for one reason, I never give up", said Del Potro.

"Today, all day, on Philippe Chatrier, the fans said "Forza, Marco", so I think this is the best moment for me", said Cecchinato."Against Dominic Thiem, he is top 10, and today all the people were for me".

Cecchinato's career has been hindered by his links to a match-fixing scandal; he was banned for 18 months in 2016 before having the suspension overturned.

However, having squandered one set point, he went in for a simple backhand volley victor only to dump it into the net.


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