Del Potro powers past Cilic to set up Rafa clash

Marcus Newton
June 8, 2018

He'll face another Argentinian foe in Juan Martin del Potro, who ousted Marin Cilic from the tournament with a 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 victory and qualified for just his second Grand Slam semi-final in the past five years. The most recent match was in the 2017 US Open, a match Nadal won in four sets.

Otherwise, he stayed steady in a 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 3 Marin Cilic in a matchup between two past U.S. Open champions. And so it proved.

I'll be back tomorrow to assess the ladies final, and again on Sunday to preview the men's final - I fully expect it to be Nadal v Thiem, but we shall see if Messrs Del Potro and Cecchinato can do anything about this.

He appeared nearly overcome with emotion after reaching his first French Open semi-final since 2009, when he was beaten by eventual champion Roger Federer.

The world number one had looked out of sorts in damp conditions on Wednesday as Schwartzman bombarded him with winners to cause him all sorts of problems, with the Argentine leading by a set and a break when the players were first called off court due to rain.

Del Potro has had success against Nadal in the past, with five wins in their 14 meetings.

"I don't know if I will win, but I will take a big love from you and that's the most important for me", he said.

Del Potro needed only two points to pocket the first set as Cilic blinked first, netting a routine forehand a 5-6.

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He buckled at 5-5 though and sent a backhand long on break point, leaving Del Potro to serve for the match, which he did easily as Cilic sent three more backhands out. He'll now face Thiem who's arguably been the best player besides Rafael Nadal in the clay court season.

"He was playing great, and I was playing too defensive".

After the first delay against Schwartzman, a set and a break down, he resumed to reel off three games in a row to put himself in control of the second.

Having a 3.8% edge on serve (holding 89.2% to Del Potro's 85.4%) on clay in the last 12 months, and a whopping 22.9% edge on return (50.4% to 27.5%), we are in quite rare territory where even Nadal's price as a heavy favourite looks value - he's [1.16] to get the win today. I couldn't find the right person.

The burly Argentine recovered his usual unflustered demeanor, hitting back from 0-2 to take the third set.

Paris - Rafael Nadal insisted he still "feels pressure" and is "only human", after battling back from a set down to beat Diego Schwartzman on Thursday and set up a French Open semi-final clash with Juan Martin del Potro.

- Is playing in the semi-finals for the first time since 2009 after years of injury woe.

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