"Del Potro has achieved great victories this year". "That's why I got angry with someone".
"It's a challenge that every player wants to have", he said.
Del Potro edged the early exchanges even though the scoreboard showed parity, testing Nadal on his service games and earning six break points as a result.
"He's [Nadal] a big favorite against everybody", said Thiem. In the fourth game Friday, del Potro clutched at his left hip after being wrong-footed by one shot from Nadal and was visited by a doctor at the next changeover.
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However, Nadal leads their overall head-to-head 6-3 with all of their encounters coming on clay.
Croatian Cilic played an bad game when serving for the set but he was gifted another chance to serve for the set after breaking del Potro again and at the second time of asking he levelled the match. However, he was beaten in the most recent - the US Open semi-final previous year - and has lost nine of their 14 matches overall.
In a contest against unlikely semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato of Italy, the Austrian took two hours and 17 minutes to book a spot in his first ever major final after a 7-5, 7-6 (10), 6-1 win.
"He is a nightmare opponent for Nadal", three-times French champion Wilander, hosting Eurosport's flagship Game, Schett and Mats programme at Roland Garros, told Reuters. And what I'm really impressed of is that, you know, even though he won it 10 times, he's here to win 11 times.
And Thiem appeared happy at the prospect of Nadal reaching the final, pointing out that, as the underdog, he would be able to play without fear.
"I think also a good thing is that I faced him already twice here". "I mean, I played semis last two years, so just went one step further today".
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This was del Potro's first semifinal appearance at a Grand Slam since making a comeback after his injury three years ago.
Thiem has played with great authority and Wilander thinks he could also worry Nadal in the final, should they meet. "So it was good for me that I won it".
Cecchinato's career has been tainted by his involvement in a match-fixing scandal; he was banned for 18 months in 2016 before having the suspension overturned. At 24, Thiem is playing his best tennis.
The final many called when the draws were made has come to fruition as 10-time French Open victor, Rafael Nadal, goes up against first-time finalist, Dominic Thiem, in Sunday's final. "So I have nothing to lose tomorrow", he had said, after subduing third seed Cilic 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 in the quarters.
Nevertheless Cecchinato can look back on a breakthrough tournament - he had never won a match at a grand slam before beating Marius Copil 10-8 in the fifth set last week.
"That was definitely the key", Cecchinato said.
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