Rafael Nadal stands just one more victory away from securing a record 10th French Open title following a typically dominant last-four win over Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros. The rejuvenated King of Clay will face Stan Wawrinka in Sunday's (11 June) men's singles final in Paris after beating Austria's sixth seed 6-3 6-4 6-0 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Looking to gain revenge on Thiem following his only defeat on the red dust in 2017 in the quarter-finals of last month's Italian Open, Nadal, who beat the highly-rated conqueror of Novak Djokovic in the finals of both Barcelona and Madrid, once again displayed an utterly ruthless edge on his favourite surface against an increasingly familiar foe appearing in only the second Grand Slam semi-final of his fledgling career.
Thiem made an impressive start to proceedings after a surprisingly quick turnaround that followed a gruelling five-set epic between 2015 champion Wawrinka and last year's beaten finalist Andy Murray, breaking in the very first game of the match behind his sublime backhand and a brilliant return.
However, Nadal hit straight back after a couple of unforced errors and saved another break to secure a battling first hold.
Thiem showed great resilience to stave off three break points in his next service game, but could not do it a fourth time as a wide forehand handed his opponent the advantage. Both players were struggling to impose their dominance on serve and Nadal went 15-40 behind before battling back to engineer a 4-1 lead. Three more holds followed before the Spaniard served out a 44-minute opening set - the first dropped by Thiem at Roland Garros this year.
Nadal once again overturned a 15-40 deficit in the second game of the second set and followed that up by breaking Thiem courtesy of his powerful forehand and another mistake from the 23-year-old, who was notably struggling on his second serve.
The second set remained close as Thiem fought back from 0-30 down following a botched Nadal volley and utilised a lovely drop shot before holding at 4-3. However, he was unable to make further inroads into the 14-time Grand Slam winner's serve and quickly found himself facing the unenviable prospect of trying to recover a two-set deficit against the greatest clay-court player that tennis has ever seen.
Nadal has never previously frittered away that sort of advantage at the French Open and he made an ideal start to the third, breaking straightaway with the aid of a long forehand from Thiem. He then held to love against an increasingly dispirited challenger and broke again from deuce to only increase the sense of inevitability.
Thiem looked completely finished by this point and conceded another hold to love and a break to love as Nadal maintained his fearsome intensity. He rallied briefly to force a rare break point while trailing 5-0, but saw the opportunity slip by. A sloppy forehand at deuce offered Nadal a first match point which he duly accepted.
The imperious Nadal has lost just 29 games during the course of this year's tournament. A 16th career victory over Wawrinka in a repeat of the 2014 Australian Open final, where the Swiss triumphed in four sets to claim the first of his three Grand Slam titles, would see him overtake Djokovic as the new world number two.