Paris: Rafael Nadal says his domination at the French Open will not go on "for 10 more years" but watching the way he demolished Juan Martin del Potro on Friday to reach his 11th final in Paris it was hard to see when his reign would end.
"You know when you start the clay-court season that Dominic, he's one of these players that have the chance to win every tournament that he's playing", Nadal said, "and maybe even (more so) here in Roland Garros, because he's strong physically".
Nadal‚ a 16-time Grand Slam champion‚ claimed his 85th win in Paris against just two losses after weathering a big-hitting opening from 2009 US Open victor Del Potro to win 6-4‚ 6-1‚ 6-2.
Del Potro will be playing in a Grand Slam semi-final for the fifth time when he steps onto Court Philippe Chatrier, with a place in the final against either surprise package Marco Cecchinato or Dominic Thiem up for grabs.
The seventh seed, the first Austrian man to reach a Grand Slam final since Thomas Muster triumphed at Roland Garros in 1995, is the only player to beat Nadal on his favourite surface this season.
Rafael Nadal powered his way into the French Open final and then claimed he can still move up another gear.
"Thiem beat me in Madrid this year and played with big power".
Only three times (once when he withdrew with an injury) has the Mallorcan not reached the French Open final since he first re-defined claycourt tennis in 2005 as a sleeveless warrior. After the rain interruption, Nadal leveled and was leading 5-3 and serving at 30-30 when play was suspended for the day.
"He's an awesome player", Nadal said. When they next met in 2016 in Buenos Aires, Thiem sprung the upset to win a three-set thriller 6-4 4-6 7-6.
Del Potro insisted his hip had not troubled him during the match, instead putting the defeat down to one simple fact: "His game is too good for me".
A sumptuous cross-court backhand victor 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, who he enjoys a 6-3 head-to-head record against.
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Del Potro had required the doctor early in the first set after appearing to jar his ankle in the red clay.
"I know I have to play my best, I have to improve a little bit".
"I've been a long time without feeling good with my body".
Nadal, by contrast, had not had a sniff on Del Potro's serve until, at 5-4, two swishes of his forehand forced two set points, the second of which he converted when the Argentinian netted.
"He's a big favorite against everybody", Thiem said.
"I'm really happy that I won this Grand Slam".
He said: "If I had won the second set, I think it would have been a totally different third set".
Rattled by the Italian's revival, Thiem clicked into overdrive - and aided by Cecchinato unforced errors - clinched a crucial break for 6-5 by crunching a forehand victor.
"When asked why he still felt stress before resuming on Thursday despite all of his past achievements, Nadal said: "(Because) I am a human person.
Nadal acknowledged that Thiem has been a "very complex" opponent.
In the third game, Schwartzman missed three points in a row and then lost the game when he missed a drop attempt.