"Nadal absolutely did admit that he gets nervous", Whitaker said. In the other semi-final, Marco Cecchinato's odd run in the last two weeks was ended by Dominic Thiem, also in straight sets, although the first two sets were somewhat closer than anything Del Potro could muster.
The younger challengers struggle to land a punch, and the last six men's Grand Slam titles have now gone in the sequence of Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal. The Austrian leaking point after point, its all Nadal at the moment, leads 2-0. So there was mild concern when Nadal called for the trainer midway through a game, requiring treatment on what looked like cramp in his hand. The world No. 8, too, was the last man to overcome Nadal on clay, last month in Madrid.
The 10-time champion is playing Dominic Thiem. After guzzling water during his visit from the doctor, Nadal was back to playing his unmistakable brand of almost unbeatable clay-court tennis.
But against Thiem, there was nothing wrong with Nadal's start. His 11th title French Open deepened a Parisian habit both routine by now and unimaginable by anyone.
The No. 6-seeded pairing from the Czech Republic beat Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya of Japan 6-3, 6-3 on Sunday.
Rafael Nadal bids for his record-extending 11th French Open championship when he faces Dominic Thiem in the final.
The 32-year-old Spaniard also secured his 17th major trophy, which moves him within three of great rival Roger Federer's all-time record.
Thiem used to hike through the Alps in his homeland as part of his training, but the 24-year-old had an even bigger mountain to climb now.
With the two heavy favourites in the semi-finals winning, we have the final that most people during the latter stages would have wanted, Nadal v Thiem, and before I discuss the data in detail, I wanted to talk about their previous meetings a little more.
The women's doubles final is also Sunday.
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