Nadal saved that second trio of break points Friday, held there, then broke in the next game to grab that set.
After struggling in his quarterfinal against Diego Schwartzman, Nadal is approaching his best form ahead of the final and hopes are high that the Spanish star will emerge victorious.
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. I mean, not many players can beat him on clay. You must always think that things might get better or you have to be with your eyes open so that you don't lose your positive energy.
Spain's Nadal will next play another Argentine Juan Martin del Potro after the former US Open champion beat Marin Cilic 7-6 5-7 6-3 7-5. However, here a year ago in the semi-finals, Nadal destroyed Thiem, losing just seven games in a rout, but it is worth mentioning that Thiem triumphed in their last meeting in Madrid last month, in the quarter-finals.
With his strong clay court play as of late, Nadal is not necessarily walking into this match the clearcut favorite. They came from non-ATP level matches, which is where the vast majority of tennis' corruption takes place, but corrupt behavior at the lower levels becomes a problem when those players graduate to the big time. "I'll try my best and hopefully do better than past year".
"I believe that there is chances, limited chances in your career", Nadal said. "I don't want anyone to think that it's a routine".
Thiem will be playing in his first Grand Slam final on Sunday compared to Nadal's 24th. And I'm really happy to prove the people wrong, because all the guys who practiced the week or 10 days before Roland Garros, they are already at home for a week.
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The 32-year-old world number one has won 10 French titles and has only been beaten twice in his career at the red clay grand slam tournament. "I never dreamed in 2005 when I played my first final here that I would be in another one".
While disappointed to miss out on the final, an upbeat Del Potro reflected on a positive campaign in Paris after at one stage fearing he would miss the tournament due to injury.
Second-seeded Olivier Marach of Austria and Mate Pavic of Croatia are through to the French Open men's doubles final, beating 2016 champions Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez of Spain 6-4, 7-5.
"It's impossible without hard work and going through tough moments".
But Checchinato could not quite keep up with Thiem and his big baseline game.
Although at times during the first set against Del Potro, especially when he was 0-40 down at 1-1 and 15-40 down at 4-4 it looked as though he might be in for a real scrap.
"That was not a nice feeling".
The Spaniard maintained his momentum to take a 2-0 lead in the second, executing the drop shot to perfection and making Del Potro run in the heat, claiming another break with a searing backhand.
Thiem sent Cecchinato scurrying around the court before breaking decisively for a 6-5 lead with a lovely forehand victor.