He produced some clinical tennis to end the hopes of the unseeded Italian and reach Sunday's showpiece with a 7-5 7-6 (12-10) 6-1 victory on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Speaking to BBC 5 Live this afternoon however, Chris Clarey said it would not be a complete surprise if the 24-year-old managed to dethrone Nadal at Roland Garros - but only if he managed to apply some early pressure during the match.
"But if Nadal comes out in vintage form, he matches up well and his skills will prevail but we will see how it plays out in the first couple of sets".
"The big key was the second set", he said.
Cecchinato, whose career was nearly derailed two years ago by a match-fixing scandal before his name was cleared, stopped the rot in the sixth game.
"It's very important to regenerate, have a good breakfast tomorrow".
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Thiem had to weather three set points for Cecchinato, at 7-6, 9-8 and 10-9.
A fourth set point for Thiem was erased with - what else? - a drop shot by Cecchinato.
That 61-minute set sucked the life out of the crowd favourite and Thiem pounced, quickly moving to a double break at 5-0 in the third set.
Nadal is closing in on his record-extending 11th title at the claycourt Grand Slam tournament and what would be his 17th Major trophy in all.
The world No 1 faces Del Potro who has made the last-four for the first time in nine years. The previous match up saw the Spaniard beat Del Potro in straight sets in the opening round in 2007. "I will watch the second semifinal to study my next opponent a little bit, then full power on Sunday".