As it happened: Thiem, Nadal storm into final

Rafael Nadal dismissed Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets, while Dominic Thiem got the better of Marco Cecchinato.

Dominic Thiem defeated Marco Cecchinato to move into the final.   -  Twitter @rolandgarros

10:05: Before that, we'll have the ladies singles final. World No. 1 Simona Halep will have the chance to gain her first Grand Slam title when she takes on Sloane Stephens of the U.S.

Catch live updates from us tomorrow, for that game.

The ladies final starts at 1830 IST. Till then, it's goodbye.

10:03 pm: We're all set for the final now. Nadal and Thiem lock horns, two potent players who have fought nine matches between them, with Thiem having had the better of his more accomplished opponent thrice.

Will Nadal run through Thiem in the final to gain another French Open title? We'll find out on Sunday.

9:48 pm: That's it from us, after another day of one-sided matches. The men's semifinals were keenly fought, but it seemed Nadal and Thiem were a class apart. They had the right arsenal, and an aggressive mindset.

Thiem's contest against Cecchinato was a closer affair; the second-set tiebreak was a nail-biting phase of play and gave us the whiff of a likely humdinger. But it wasn't to be, as Cecchinato was clearly broken and tired after failing to clinch the tiebreaker, despite possessing chances to do so.

9:48 pm In 2 hrs 14 mins, Nadal beats Del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 to enter the French Open final for the eleventh time.

It's been too one-sided in the last two sets, but del Potro appeared to be too insipid to provide any reasonable challenge to his opponent.

The World No. 1 faces Thiem, twice his nemesis in the ATP World Tour Masters.

 

9:47 pm Match point for Nadal 40-30.

9: 46 pm Nadal commits an unforced error. 30-30.

9:45 pm A forehand winner for Nadal. 30-15.

9: 44 pm Nadal 15-15 Del Potro.

9: 43 pm Nadal 0-15 Del Potro.

9:41 pm A quick hold for Del Potro. But Nadal leads 5-2 and will now serve for the match.

9:39 pm Nadal inches close to his eleventh French Open final, leads 5-1.

9:33 pm Nadal leads 4-1 with a double break.

9:30 pm: Nadal holds his serve and leads 3-1 in the third set, with a break. Can Del Potro fight back?

9:09 pm: Nadal comes up with a few good serves, and in a business-like manner clinches the set (6-1). It's all been too straightforward, going by the scoreline.

With his vicious forehands and competent play, del Potro looks to have been very much in the contest. In the second set, though, he has paid the price for way too many errors. He seems to have stagnated against a rampaging opponent?

It's an uphill task for him now, but he's known to play long matches. Can he make an inspiring comeback?

9:05 pm: Del Potro lifts his arms up in the air to much jubilation in the crowd, after managing to secure his first game of the set. A few unforced errors from Nadal helped. It's 5-1, Nadal serving for the set.

8:56 pm: Another break! It's turning out be one-sided. Nadal is playing well in rallies, a couple of scorching backhand strokes in the game stand out. Del Potro saves a break point and is close to taking the game, after coming up with good serves.

But Nadal has the last laugh; he finishes it off with a backhand winner. It's 4-0 now.

8:47 pm: Nadal wriggles out of potential trouble yet again, coming up with good serves to close the game. He's now taken a 3-0 lead, in the second set.

8:41 pm: This time, Nadal gives del Potro more than a scare. With the help of a couple of unforced errors from del Potro, a resolute Nadal breaks! He's taken a 2-0 lead in the second set.

8:39 pm: Del Potro gives Nadal a scare, coming up with ripping forehands to put Nadal off. After a scare, Nadal holds.

8:28 pm: Rallies again, and this time, Nadal gains the edge, unsettling del Potro with his cross-court backhand and some smart play. And with an unforced error from del Potro, he gets the crucial break, and the set (6-4)!

Nadal chose an opportune moment to break the equilibrium. With little to choose between the two players, it had to be a momentary lapse from a player that provides a definite shift. Del Potro's errors didn't help; he finds himself one set down now.

8:14 pm: After a typical backhand down the line, del Potro gains two break points. A good serve from Nadal and an unforced error from his opponent helps him restore parity.

Later, he executes a backhand cross-court to win a point. He finishes off the game by coming up to the net, getting involved in some back-and-forth with del Potro, and eventually inducing an error out of him.

He had earlier paid the price for a drop shot that gave del Potro a point and a look-in.

8:13 pm: A hard-hit backhand down the line, and a few good serves help del Potro hold again. It's 4-4.

8:08 pm: Nadal is aggressive, and he holds. Peppering del Potro with his deadly forehand, he sustains the pressure until his opponent falters. He finishes off the game with a big serve, and a fierce forehand stroke at the net.

8:04 pm: It's taken a bit of time for del Potro to hold. Nadal gives him some resistance, but del Potro uses his big serve to his advantage (and a bit of enterprise, executing a drop shot) and manages to clinch the game, levelling the scores. It's 3-3 now.

7:55 pm: The players are getting into rallies more often, now, a new equilibrium. Del Potro tries to utilise his powerful forehands well, while Nadal stands out with his top-spin laden forehand. The players are still on serve. After seven games, Nadal leads 3-2.

7:46 pm: Nadal's loose play gifts del Potro three break points! Nadal makes an unforced error and double-faults to be 0-40, but then recollects himself to take the game. He serves better, and before long, has the game under his control. It's 2-1.

7:40 pm: It's 1-1, but del Potro has had the more assured start to the contest. Nadal has no answer to his big serves; he executes a scorching forehand down the line on one occasion, and serves an ace to hold to love.

7:33 pm: Can the plucky del Potro stop Nadal's juggernaut?

The two players have positioned themselves on the court, for the big match. Nadal to serve first.

7:18 pm: There's another semifinal contest in the menu for today.

It's No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal vs Juan Martin del Potro.

6:53 pm: But it's all in vain. Thiem is back to dictating terms. He opens up room to exploit once again, and Cecchinato manages a weak return on the run. Thiem comes up to the net, and dispatches the ball with disdain.

That's perhaps the right note to sign off, as the Austrian has been dominant and clinical for the most part.

But perhaps the clinching factor would be his mental resilience. Under pressure, Thiem has found ways to be seemingly unaffected by it. The dramatic second-set tiebreak was perhaps a psychological victory that influenced the contest in his favour.

To be sure, though, Cecchinato looked tired towards the end and handed over the final set to his opponent. Fighting in his usual cavalier fashion, he made a comeback twice in the contest, but blew it away. In the first set, he broke back and looked to be in command, before being broken back again, and in the second, having gone neck-and-neck for the most part and having possessed set points, he came up short.

Thiem books his place in the final, where he awaits either Rafael Nadal or Juan Martin del Potro.

The final score: 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1.

“I think the big key was the second set because it was a close tie-break. I saved two set points and luckily I won it. It was 6-4 and the one thing I wanted to do was win the set and I missed an easy volley at one moment which was not a nice feeling.”  - Thiem

 

6:51 pm: And out of the blue, Cecchinato has two break points. Thiem makes a couple of errors, his backhand-down-the-line attempt evading the line, and then a sliced return that is absorbed by the net.

6:48: Cecchinato finally has a game to his name, in the third set. Too little, too late, perhaps.

6:42: And he's broken, within minutes. Cecchinato gives a shake of the head; it's slipping away from him now, the contest. Errors creeping into his game don't help matters.

Thiem has a 4-0 lead in the third set. He's two games away from a berth in the Roland Garros final.

6:37: Thiem is unrelenting. With the help of a few errors from Cecchinato and a delightful drop shot, he breaks his Italian opponent. It's 2-0 now, in the third set, Thiem having taken the first two sets.

6:24 pm: Thiem comes up with a rare drop shot of his own to make it 10-10 — a brave option to take when under pressure. And he moves on swiftly to clinch the set!

Resolute hitting and enterprising play helps him make a comeback. Thiem seems to have good reserves of mental fortitude, for he hasn't allowed the earlier missed opportunity and the subsequent shift of momentum to shake him.

He seems to have an answer to any scenario thrown at him; his all-round play, backed by smartness and enterprise, has given him a two-set lead now.

 

6:16 pm: Cecchinato unsettles Thiem with his drop shot, but Thiem roars back with a blazing return of serve that Cecchinato has no answer to. Three set points for him; Cecchinato saves one, but off the second, Thiem makes a mess of an opportunity to kill the point after having come up to the net.

Tables turn; Cecchinato makes it 7-7 before gaining a set point, his first. Thiem comes up to the net again, once gaining a point, and on the second instance, hitting the ball to the net.

Another error, and Cecchinato has a set point once again. And it's tied again. 9-9.

6:13 pm: Thiem holds his own in long rallies; his scorching forehand stroke leaves Cecchinato debilitated. He takes a 4-2 lead in the tiebreaker.

6:09 pm: Powerful backhand strokes, and errors from Cecchinato helps Thiem hold again. It's time for the tiebreaker.

6:05 pm: This time, there's no fuss at all. With big serves, Cecchinato holds to love, makes it 6-5. Thiem held serve with ease, too.

5:57 pm: Thiem has presence of mind, and lots of stamina. Covering the entire court, coming up to the net frequently, and engaging in long rallies, he unsettles Cecchinato.

Cecchinato holds on, however. It's 5-4. Thiem serves to stay in the set.

5:48 pm: It's the big serve that both players have come to pick from their arsenal fairly frequently. The players dominate their own service games, and the stalemate continues.

5:41 pm: An inopportune moment to execute a drop shot; Thiem races up to the net and neatly places the ball away from Cecchinato's reach. It gives him two break points. Cecchinato, though, serves well to disallow the break, and wins the game.

He leads 3-2.

5:39 pm: It's 2-2 now, the players having settled into a rhythm, it seems.

5:32 pm: Both players hold their service games with ease. Their big serves are an asset. Thiem produces a rare ace. It's 1-1 in the second set, Thiem having taken the first.

5:22 pm: Thiem holds, and takes the first set 7-5. He plays smartly; on one occasion, he quickly goes up to the net to absorb a looping return of serve from Cecchinato, and quietly places the ball into the empty court. Cecchinato gives vent to his frustrations, motions as if he'd throw the racquet to the ground in disgust.

It has to be frustrating, though, when the momentum he had gained dissipated quickly.

5:18 pm: In the middle of a fierce rally, Thiem opens up a big space in his opponent's part of the court, and duly takes advantage of that to break back. It's been a topsy-turvy encounter, this...Thiem, then, to serve for the set.

5:14 pm: Thiem conjures some big serves and barring a bizarre unforced error, plays a solid game. He takes the game, and it's 5-5.

5:10 pm: Cecchinato holds to love! Have the tables turned?

Cecchinato looks more in control at the moment. He's taken a 5-4 lead. Another break in the next game, and the set is his.

5:05: It's Thiem's time to struggle! With some scorching returns, Cecchinato has three break points. Thiem wins three in a row, before Cecchinato sizzles once again with a big backhand, and secures the game when Thiem goes long.

All even, then.

5:01 pm: Cecchinato exults after Thiem's drop shot return is handled well and the point is pocketed. However, he struggles to get the game done once again, paying the price for some inaccurate strokes. Finally, though, he holds, helped again by his booming service.

4:52 pm: Thiem threatens to break again, unsettling his opponent with sprightly play. A passing shot was particularly delightful. Cecchinato holds, however, helped by his big service and a gentle drop shot.

4:44 pm: The players win their subsequent service games with little fuss. Cecchinato shakes off his early jitters and plays aggressively to win his first game of the match. Thiem leads 2-1.

4:42 pm: After having taken a 30-15 lead calmly, Cecchinato commits an unforced error and has no answer to a scorching forehand from Thiem. He saves a break point, but struggles to finish off the game, and before long, is broken!

4:33 pm: The quietly resilient Dominic Thiem against the gregarious Marco Cecchinato...the mouthwatering clash is about to begin at Court Philippe Chatrier. Having fulfilled the formalities of the coin toss, the two players are warming up on the court.

Thiem and Cecchinato have never met in a Grand Slam before.

--

Hello and welcome to Sportstar's live blog session of the French Open 2018 as the men clash in the semifinals of the tournament at the Roland Garros in Paris on Friday.

The opening match would see Marco Cecchinato take on Dominic Thiem, while later in the evening, it's defending champion Rafaela Nadal, who takes on Argentina's Juan Martin de Potro.

Who are the favourites to reach the final of the tournament? Or can we expect an upset? Catch all the live updates here.