Nadal beats del Potro to reach 11th French…

Rafael Nadal celebrates a point against Juan Martin Del Potro in the French Open semifinals on June 8.
Cameron Spencer  
Getty Images

Rafael Nadal celebrates a point against Juan Martin Del Potro in the French Open semifinals on June 8. Cameron Spencer Getty Images

- Sharapova, the champion in 2012 and 2014, made her first quarter-finals at the majors since her return from a doping ban when she was handed a walkover out of the fourth round by an injured Serena Williams.

After nicking the first set with a break in the final game, Nadal cracked 13 winners and allowed Del Potro just 16 points in a second set lasting just half an hour.

The battle wore on and on, before, on the Austrian's fifth set point, Cecchinato went long to fall two sets behind.

After the 13th-seeded Keys held for 5-4, Stephens served out victory at the second attempt.

He fired long on a first set point, Nadal saved the second with a jaw-dropping drop shot but on the third, just after the match was interrupted for a few minutes while an unwell spectator was evacuated, Schwartzman unleashed a stunning forehand victor down the line - his 20th victor.

Rafael Nadal improved to 11-0 in French Open semifinals.

Nadal said he was a "bit lucky" the match was halted by rain.

Thiem's confidence has grown as he reached the final of a major for the first time after falling in the semis in the last two editions of the French Open. There were no breaks of serve through the 12 games, with Thiem earning three break points while giving away none.

The other men's match is No. 7 Dominic Thiem of Austria against unseeded Marco Cecchinato of Italy.

After discussing his aspirations with an incredible 11th Roland Garros title now in sight, Rafa - a fervent Real Madrid fan - concluded, "I'm glad Cristiano is 23".

Nadal won the French Open on his debut as a 19-year-old and came into this year's event with a 79-2 win-loss record at Roland Garros.

Thiem has played with great authority and Wilander thinks he could also worry Nadal in the final, should they meet.

Dominic Thiem celebrates his semifinal victory over Marco Cecchinato at the French Open on June 8.
Matthew Stockman  
Getty Images
Dominic Thiem celebrates his semifinal victory over Marco Cecchinato at the French Open on June 8. Matthew Stockman Getty Images

For his hard work, Del Potro gets a semifinal showdown with Rafael Nadal on Friday.

If Nadal's march toward an 11th championship at Roland Garros was going to be stopped on this day, things were going to have to go del Potro's way right then. It puts them in an uncomfortable position since the start - they lose the first set and immediately think "oh, there's no way I can get three sets now, I'm not physically strong enough to do it".

"It may sound easy and logical, but I don't want it to be. Being in a final here is something I should rejoice about and be happy about", he said.

Fitness permitting, Nadal is arguably the most in-form player in world tennis at the present moment and his record at Roland Garros is barely believable. Del Potro saved two set points to avoid a bagel, but a rampant Nadal charged in at every opportunity and served out the set in commanding fashion.

Watch the final of the French Open LIVE on FOX SPORTS. And I had my chances today, but I couldn't play my best because of him. Applying this to Sunday's final, we might expect to see three or four sets, but are less likely to see five.

Also back in action after a suspension was the quarterfinal between past U.S. Open champions Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro.

"And if he would have won the tiebreak, he would be full power, for sure, in the third set".

Regarded as Nadal's natural successor, Thiem unleashed a searing bombardment on the Italian before the contest became complicated.

Thiem was quick to respond, reeling off the next three games to take the set in 46 minutes.

Sunday's final will be Nadal's 24th Grand Slam final, putting him second all time.

Women's semifinals: No. 1 Simona Halep beat No. 3 Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4.

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