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Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal: The five ages of tennis's greatest rivalry

11 Juin 2018

Unfortunately for him, Thiem began the second set the same way he ended the first. In the other semi-final, Marco Cecchinato's unusual run in the last two weeks was ended by Dominic Thiem, also in straight sets, although the first two sets were somewhat closer than anything Del Potro could muster.

The clay-court specialist from Spain raced to a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory in two hours and 42 minutes over his younger Austrian rival and first-time major finalist on a warm, humid Sunday afternoon in France's capital, Paris. There is no question in my mind that he should have beaten this guy - but he did pull a rabbit out of the hat.' Analyzing the Novak's ups and down, McEnroe added: 'I think it's more mental than physical but I don't know that for sure.

"I am 32. That's how I feel".

"Of course I would love to have 20 like Roger in the future or even more but it's not something that is on my mind".

But only so much of a thrill. What really matters for me is have this trophy again with me.

"Still, I'm disappointed, of course". Nadal -5.5 games is available on the Exchange at [1.68] and given the fact that Nadal has tended to dominate Thiem on non-quick clay, this should be a very likely outcome if Nadal wins the final. Drawing on his endless reserves of energy, he made the physical battle, especially in the beginning, against Thiem look like a light day at work.

Despite there being a wave of momentum now carrying the Spaniard following such a deserved win over Thiem, Nadal's most hard task of the year is yet to come at Wimbledon. "Then hopefully I can do it better than today".

He has come close in Paris before, losing in the semifinals previous year (to Nadal) and in 2016 (to Novak Djokovic). For a time, fans could nearly believe that Thiem would present a challenge in this match.

Ten years ago, Nadal was already the King of Clay.

Nadal's Barcelona Open semifinal win over David Goffin was his 400th tour-level clay-court match win, making him the fourth man in the Open Era to win 400 matches on clay, after Vilas (659), Manuel Orantes (502) and Muster (422).

After an early swap of service breaks in Paris, it was 4-all in the opening set.

Thiem says he is "confident" his first appearance in a Grand Slam final will not be his last. That was part of a five-game run that sent Nadal on his way. A spate of poor play quickly saw him lose the first three games of the set. He didn't look meek or cowed, just frustrated when he missed chances to make minor headway. Uses the space in the court well, stands close to the net and tucks the return serve away for a point. Thiem was not easily cowed down by the Nadal forehand, nor the Popeye-bicep it finished off on.

Maybe nerves were a factor in Thiem's performance.

Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal: The five ages of tennis's greatest rivalry