Paris (AFP) – Friday’s French Open semi-finals — at a glance:
Rafael Nadal v Juan Martin del Potro
Head-to-head: Nadal leads 9-5
— Bidding to win 11th French Open, which would tie Margaret Court’s all-time record of most singles titles won at a single Grand Slam.
— Has never failed to win Roland Garros after reaching semi-finals, but joked on Thursday that he “is a human person”.
— The 32-year-old won record 11th Monte Carlo and Barcelona titles earlier this year and has an 84-2 winning record in Paris.
— Victory in the final would make him the third player to make $100 million in prize money after Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
He says: “I don’t have any obligation to win, first thing. Second thing, if you don’t feel the pressure, it’s because you don’t love the sport.”
— Is playing in the semi-finals for the first time since 2009 after years of injury woe.
— Has had wrist surgery four times.
— His nine wins over players ranked world number one is a record for players to have never been No 1 themselves.
— The Argentinian has some of the most partisan fans in tennis, but became angered by a Marin Cilic supporter’s supposed hissing while he was serving in his quarter-final win.
— Dedicated his maiden Masters title at Indian Wells in March to his dog Cesar, which died the month before.
He says: “I had surgery three times on my wrist and I was close to quitting this sport. I don’t have words to explain what this means to me and my team.”
Marco Cecchinato v Dominic Thiem
Head-to-head: First meeting
— First Italian man in 40 years to reach Grand Slam semi-final after stunning 12-time major winner Djokovic in last-eight
— In 2016 was suspended for 18 months by the Italian tennis federation having been accused of fixing. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
— Had never won a match at the Slams before this year’s Roland Garros
— Ranked at 72, guaranteed now at least to be at 27 (and seeded for Wimbledon)
— Lowest ranked Roland Garros semi-finalist since number 99 Andrey Medvedev in 1999
— Could become first Italian man to win Paris title since Adriano Panatta in 1976
He says: “I would sign with blood to win against Thiem and reach the final even if I were to lose against Nadal.”
— Into third semi-final at Roland Garros
— Completed six months mandatory national service with Austrian military in 2014
— Only man to have defeated Nadal on clay this year
— Girlfriend is French star Kristina Mladenovic
— In past, has trained by carrying tree trunks on his back to build physique
He says: “I think for me it’s time to move on to make a great step, because I’m turning 25 (in September). I’m not that young anymore.”