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GETTYRafael Nadal is in the French Open quarter-finals

Nadal and Thiem will clash at Roland Garros in Sunday night's final in the battle between ruling monarch and heir apparent.

"True, I understand that everybody here, you have to write things", he said.

Play has since resumed and Nadal now leads 4-2 in the third set.

Nadal is bidding to become only the second player to win 11 titles at any Grand Slam tournament after Margaret Court, who won the Australian women's singles title 11 times. Nadal saved that second trio of break points Friday, held there, then broke in the next game to grab that set.

Nadal has a 6-3 career ATP singles record against the young Austrian.

"It was a very hard first set and Juan Martin had lots of opportunities".

Austria's Dominic Thiem on Friday put an end to the French Open dream run of Italy's Marco Cecchinato with a 7-5, 7-6 (12-10), 6-1 victiry, earning a place in a Grand Slam final for the first time.

Nadal is now just the second man to reach 11 finals at the same Slam‚ equalling Roger Federer's mark at Wimbledon. "That's the only way for me to approach the tough moments".

Ah, but there's a reason Nadal is 11-0 in semifinals at the French Open, a reason he is 10-0 in finals there - so far.

"I think the big key was the second set because it was a close tie-break", said the 24-year-old.

"Four years ago, I didn't know if I would be back in a final", Nadal told reporters.

Nadal tightened his grip, going to 5-1 on another double break in the third set and sealed the match when Del Potro hit a backhand long.World 72 Cecchinato had knocked out three seeded players to reach the semi-finals, including 12-time major victor Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.But Thiem, 24, was too strong and now believes he has a particularly powerful weapon on his side for the final - breakfast. You don't get to a Grand Slam semi-final by accident. Nadal claimed the final two points of that game in contrasting fashion, ripping a cross-court backhand that left the crowd gasping and deftly hitting a volley off a tricky net cord.

Rafael Nadal held serve in the opening game against Juan Martin del Potro in their French Open semifinal.

Robin Soderling, who famously inflicted Nadal's first defeat at the French Open in 2009, insists Thiem has to take the initiative from the start.

Nadal will retain the world number one ranking if he wins - but that will be the last thing on his mind.

A few hours earlier, as Nadal and Thiem warmed up, the booming voice of the announcer at Court Philippe Chatrier detailed the bona fides of both.

Nadal acknowledged that Thiem has been a "very complex" opponent.

He appeared to be in near peak form against del Potro - once the all important first set went in his favor.

The No. 6-seeded pairing from the Czech Republic beat Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya of Japan 6-3, 6-3 on Sunday. Nadal had more trouble with another Argentine, the diminutive Diego Schwartzman, in the quarterfinals.

Del Potro, the US Open victor in 2009, is playing the tournament for only the second time since 2012 after a spate of injuries.

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