By Onogwu Muhammed
World No 1 takes another step closer to an 11th French Open title and 17th at the majors by setting up final with Dominic Thiem on Sunday
Rafael Nadal extinguished the threat of Juan Martin del Potro to canter into another French Open final, where he will be seeking a record-extending 11th title.
The 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory saw Nadal become just the second male player in the Open era to reach 11 finals at the same Grand Slam tournament, equalling Roger Federer's record at Wimbledon.
Nadal has now won 24 of his 27 Grand Slam semi-finals as he swept aside the threat of the Argentine in clinical fashion to set up a meeting with Dominic Thiem – the only man to have beaten him on the dirt in 2018 – in Sunday's final.
“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.
“It's impossible without hard work and going through tough moments. You have to be focused 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.”
Del Potro seemed to hurt his left hip during the third game of the match after getting wrong-footed and called the tournament doctor with Nadal leading 3-2.
However, he quickly recovered and looked to have the ascendancy, but the Argentine let six break-point chances slip and Nadal pounced with a solitary break in the 10th game which was enough to allow him to seal the set after 54 minutes of high-octane action.
The dominant Spaniard, who has never failed to win the title when reaching the last four at Roland Garros, rampaged his way through the next, building a 5-0 lead, before Del Potro raised his arms in celebration after managing a hold to avoid the dreaded bagel.
Nadal was not in a charitable frame of mind, though, as he cantered through his next service game with new balls to edge closer to another final.
Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, appeared to be running on empty at the start of the third set and it was no surprise when the 32-year-old top seed switched gears again to make an early breakthrough.
A sumptuous cross-court backhand winner by Nadal handed him a double-break in the fifth game and it wasn't long after before he closed out proceedings in two hours and 14 minutes to take his place in Sunday's showpiece against Thiem, whom he enjoys a 6-3 head-to-head record against.
“Thiem is an amazing player. He beat me in Madrid, he has big power so I have to be at my best and improve,” added Nadal. “But I believe I will be ready for the final.”