French Open: Nadal crushes Thiem to set up Wawrinka final

Rafael Nadal, who won the last of his French Opens in 2014, is bidding to become the first man to win 10 titles at a single Grand Slam.

Rafael Nadal reached his 10th French Open final without dropping a set.   -  AFP

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal marched into a record 10th French Open final after outclassing Austrian sixth seed Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 on Friday.

The Spaniard will face 2015 Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka for the title after the 32-year-old Swiss defeated Andy Murray in a five-set epic to become the oldest finalist in Paris since 1973.

Nadal, who won the last of his French Opens in 2014, is bidding to become the first man to win 10 titles at a single Grand Slam.

He leads the head-to-head with Wawrinka 15-3, but the Swiss stunned an injury-hit Nadal three years ago to claim the Australian Open crown.

"I have been playing a great event. But Stan is playing unbelievable," said Nadal.

"It will be a super hard final and I will need to play at my very best."

Thiem broke Nadal in the opening game, but the Spaniard swiftly countered with four games to subdue the Austrian and run away with the first set.

Nadal erased two more break points early in the second set as Thiem again threatened, but the sixth seed promptly lost his own serve to hand his opponent the initiative once more.

With Nadal locked in, the Spaniard calmly converted the first of three set points with a confident volley to leave Thiem staring into the abyss.

The 14-time major champion was in total control after Thiem meekly surrendered serve to start the third set, Nadal responding with a routine hold for a 2-0 cushion.

Thiem's hopes of becoming just the second Austrian - after 1995 French Open winner Thomas Muster - to reach a Slam final subsided with a whimper as Nadal raced to victory in just over two hours.


US Open champion Wawrinka, 32, triumphed in a pulsating four hour 34 minute battle of shot-making and endurance and will target a fourth Slam title on Sunday.

For Murray, his wait to become Britain's first men's champion in Paris since Fred Perry in 1935 goes on as he beaten in a nerve-jangling contest 6-7(6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1.

"It's incredible to be in another Roland Garros final," said Wawrinka, the oldest finalist since 33-year-old Niki Pilic was runner-up in 1973. "I was hesitant in trying to finish the first and third sets but I felt like I could retake control.

"Andy always makes you play another ball, he makes you play badly. It was a great atmosphere which makes you give it your all."

Murray admitted that Wawrinka was the stronger player in the end. "I tried to keep fighting, but he played well at the end," said Murray, the 2016 runner-up to Novak Djokovic. "I was a tiebreak from getting to the final in a tournament which I came into struggling."

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