His appetite was audible in the long, trailing groans of effort that echoed around the old concrete stadium.
"Today is a day to rejoice".
"I know I have to play my best, I have to improve a little bit".
"Delpo is not afraid of too many players in the world". "And in the end, I got it, and now I'm having a great present, looking forward for the future".
The 24-year-old Thiem is now a Grand Slam finalist for the first time, but he has been trending in this direction for a while. If Nadal is good enough to get to the last hurdle, he's sure to cross it.
"If I'd won the second set I think it is totally different, the third set", he said.
Charmingly, despite Nadal's accomplishments, he's still prone to nerves when he steps on center court here.
Nadal won the pair's only previous two meetings at the French Open, including their semi-final clash a year ago, but Thiem is confident he can upset the world number one on Sunday.
Nadal seldom leaves the door cracked very long.
Del Potro, 29, is a popular figure among tennis fans, with affection for him growing further as a result of the catalogue of injuries he has suffered in recent years.
Although at times during the first set against Del Potro, especially when he was 0-40 down at 1-1 and 15-40 down at 4-4 it looked as though he might be in for a real scrap.
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Schwartzman started the match aggressively, hitting 20 winners as he became the first player since 2015 to take a set off Nadal in Paris.
"It was not a very nice feeling", Thiem told the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd afterward. "And in my opinion, the match changed", Nadal said.
The Spaniard was a set and a break down on Thursday morning before he regrouped and blazed through the last two sets on Friday morning (AEST) in a last-eight showdown played over two days due to rain.
Rafa is in search of his 11th career French Open title and 17th Grand Slam singles title overall, while Thiem will play in his first Grand Slam final.
There have, however, appeared to be one or two chinks in his armour at Roland Garros this year.
A fourth set point for Thiem vanished because of one of Cecchinato's many drop shots.
Now only Dominic Thiem stands in the way of Nadal and what seems an inevitable 11th Roland Garros title.
ESPN's Nicolas Pereira recaps Rafael Nadal's comfortable semifinal win over Juan Martin del Potro to set up a meeting with Dominic Thiem. "So I have nothing to lose tomorrow", he had said, after subduing third seed Cilic 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 in the quarters. The Italian succumbed quickly in the third set, sparing the French Open from a final in which his past match-fixing case would have been rehashed under a global spotlight.
In Madrid, Thiem said the key was to be positive against Nadal.
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