Rafael Nadal looks nearly unstoppable heading into his French Open semifinal against Dominic Thiem.
Rafael Nadal has been at his Nadal-est this event. This has been 10 days of immaculate tennis, custom-made for clay courts. Nadal may consider himself an "old" 31-year-old. But it’s as though he decided to start the year by changing into the costume of a younger player. He required only 10 games on Wednesday, advancing when his countryman opponent, Pablo Carreno Busta, retired with an abdominal injury at 6-2, 2-0.
Nadal has not only done everything right so far. Nadal has not only won a higher percentage of second serve points than first serve points. He is also expending very little precious energy. After Wednesday’s shortened shift, his five matches here averaged less than 90 minutes. His 10th title is no forgone conclusion. In the semifinals, he will play No. 6-seed Thiem, the last man to beat him (and the last man to beat him on clay). Regardless of those stats, Nadal could scarcely be better positioned.