Rafael Nadal has booked a record 11th French Open final, demolishing Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, in three straight sets 6-4 6-1 6-2, in a one-sided match that lasted a little over 2 hours.
Nadal, hot favorite for an 11th French Open championship, will on Sunday meet Austrian Dominic Thiem, who in an earlier semi-final pairing beat Italian Marco Cecchinato.
Thiem is the only man to beat Nadal on clay in the last two seasons — in Madrid this year and Rome in 2017.
“It was a very difficult first set and Juan Martin had lots of opportunities. He was a little unfortunate,” said Nadal who reeled off 14 of the last 17 games, having seen Del Potro fail to convert any of his seven break points.
Nadal is now just the second man to reach 11 finals at the same Slam, equalling Roger Federer’s mark at Wimbledon.
“It’s impossible without hard work and going through tough moments.
“You have to be focussed and keep your passion for the game. I never dreamed in 2005 when I played my first final here that I would be in another one.”
But the Spaniard was impressive on Friday, finishing with 35 winners and 19 unforced errors to Del Potro’s analysis of 20 and 32.
“Thiem is an amazing player. He beat me in Madrid, he has big power so I have to be at my best and improve,” said Nadal.
“But I believe I will be ready for the final.”
World number one Nadal went into Friday’s clash with a 9-5 career record against Del Potro, including all three meetings on clay.
However, it was Del Potro who was in the ascendancy in the rallies in the first set.
The fifth seed, playing in his first Roland Garros semi-final in nine years, had three break points in the third game and three more in the ninth.
However, the 29-year-old was unable to capitalise and Nadal made him pay in the 10th game when he claimed the opener off a netted backhand.