Nadal has also won six of his last eight grand slam final appearances and is 10-0 in French Open final appearances.
Juan Martin del Potro believes it's virtually impossible to defeat Rafael Nadal on clay and backed the Spaniard to claim an 11th French Open title in Sunday's final against Dominic Thiem.
This time, Thiem instead faced Cecchinato, who never had won a Grand Slam match until this tournament and was the lowest-ranked men's semifinalist at the clay-court major in 19 years. For me it's incredible.
"It's always hard to play someone from your country and such a good friend, but I'm happy I played my tennis", Stephens said.
"I can not believe it now", Karin Thiem, a tennis coach, told a group of reporters.
The second set, like the first, was dominated by serve until Cilic fired himself up to break at 4-4 - a furious Del Potro throwing his racket at the changeover.
"It was even heavier and more overcast than I even remember it being".
"You can win a set, but not a match against Rafa", said Del Potro keen not to over-egg any hint of weakness in Nadal's game.
Speaking to Express recently, Nadal admitted that he thinks he could lose to Del Potro if he plays too defensively. Trying to beat Nadal at Roland Garros in a best-of-five match is akin to trying to beat '08 Phelps in the individual medley, or 2012 Usain Bolt in the 200-meter dash.you get the picture.
The Spaniard has never lost a final at Roland Garros with his win-loss record on Parisian Clay being 85-2. "And so that puts the bar really high and the pressure is at its maximum, that's why he's so tough to beat".
"It was very important to win the first one".
It has felt a few times over the last week like we've massively built matches up only to be then left disappointed.
He has dropped just one set so far - at the start of his quarter-final win against Diego Schwartzman - and crushed 2009 US Open champion Del Potro in dominant fashion.
Thiem was the aggressor early on and he broke in the first game before holding to love for a 2-0 lead.
Marco Cecchinato has dropped his first service game against seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem in their French Open semifinal.
The Austrian netted an easy volley to give another opportunity to Cecchinato, which he seized, forcing his opponent to a backhand error.
That 61-minute set sucked the life out of the crowd favourite and Thiem pounced, quickly moving to a double break at 5-0 in the third set. The Spanish ace dropped the first set and was down 3-2 in the second before a rain break swung the momentum in his favour.
The pair were locked on serve in the second set until they were separated by an enthralling tiebreak.
"Otherwise, it's not a very nice feeling".
"For sure I can take some things from that", he said. There were no breaks of serve through the 12 games, with Thiem earning three break points while giving away none.
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