Across the last 12 months on clay, Nadal has held serve 88.7% to Thiem's 85.7% (3.0% edge) while breaking opponents 50.0% to 30.1% (19.9% edge), and this incredible advantage he has on return was a big factor in me pricing Nadal as a [1.17] favourite to lift the trophy today.
Opportunities are there to be had against Nadal and none have arrived with the clay-court pedigree of the world No. 8.
"What will be important will be to try and make him play in uncomfortable situations", said Moya, the 1998 French Open champion.
Thiem led 6-3 but suddenly lost focus.
And on the penultimate point of the semifinal, after being run ragged, the 2009 US Open victor could only offer up a smile.
The 16-year-old McNally, who is unseeded, beat Iga Swiatek of Poland 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4.
It will also reignite the debate over who is actually the greatest player of all time. However, here previous year 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.
However, it was Del Potro who was in the ascendancy in the rallies in the first set. Their discussion took place minutes after del Potro seemed to hurt his left hip during the third game of the match after getting wrong-footed. "It was nearly impossible to beat him", del Potro said.
The final between Nadal and Thiem is expected to get underway around 2pm United Kingdom time on Sunday.
That the second seed, Alexander Zverev, reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final this week says it all.
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Relentless Nadal broke to love at the start of the third, and as he moved on to match point an exhausted Del Potro paused for breath, bent double, as if he had been punched in the stomach. But this will be the first time they've met in a Grand Slam final.
It was the Austrian's third consecutive appearance in the semifinals at Roland Garros.
He has lost just two of 87 matches at Roland Garros overall, losing only to Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic.
Cecchinato, who was suspended for match-fixing in 2016 before being cleared on a technicality, proved to be no pushover even though he had never won a match at a major before this year's French Open.
Rafael Nadal is coming off a straight sets win over Juan Martín del Potro that took 25 games to decide. Their semifinal is later Friday.
Both players contributed to an entertaining start, but Thiem quickly took control, breaking through in the opening game and then comfortably holding easily.
After failing on the penultimate hurdle at Roland Garros in the last two years, Dominic Thiem has successfully managed to reach the final of the clay-court Grand Slam in the ongoing season, and deservedly so.
At No. 72, Cecchinato was the lowest-ranked men's semifinalist at the French Open since 1999.
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.
Del Potro is playing in the French Open semifinals for the first time in nine years. If you were laying odds at the beginning of the tournament, Thiem was nowhere near the seventh favorite (he's seeded No. 7).
No player in history has won as many grand slam titles at a single tournament as Nadal has in Paris.