Sun, Jun 10, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Taiwan’s Tseng defeats top seed in juniors final

‘ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE’:Nadal is feeling the pressure to win his 11th Paris title, as retirement is not too far away, but Del Potro foresees no difficulty for the 32-year-old

AP and AFP, Paris

Taiwan’s Tseng Chun-hsin celebrates winning a point against Sebastian Baez during their French Open boys’ singles final yesterday in Paris.

Photo: AP

Tseng Chun-hsin of Taiwan has won the boys’ title at the French Open by defeating top-seeded Sebastian Baez of Brazil 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.

The 16-year-old Tseng, who beat Australian Open champion Sebastian Korda of the US in the semi-finals, came back from a break down in the first set to claim his first Grand Slam title.

“Today I was playing really well on the baseline and solid,” the fourth-seeded Tseng said. “I think the first set I was a little bit tight in the beginning, and after I just enjoyed and relaxed.”

However, Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching and her partner, Yang Zhaoxuan of China, did not fare so well, falling just short of the women’s doubles final on Friday after losing to Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya of Japan 6-2, 6-2.

In the Roland Garros men’s competition, Rafael Nadal said that his desire to clinch an 11th French Open title today is fired by his growing realization that the end of his career might not be too far away.

The 32-year-old Spaniard, with 16 majors to his name, is to play his 24th Grand Slam final at Roland Garros against Dominic Thiem, who is playing his first.

Victory would give Nadal an 11th title in Paris and equal Margaret Court’s all-time record for wins at the same Slam event — in her case, the Australian Open from 1960 and 1973.

Nadal still trails Roger Federer by four major titles, although the Swiss star is more than four years older.

“For me, the motivation to play here always is high, high as possible,” Nadal said after breezing past Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in Friday’s semi-finals in what was his 85th win in Paris against just two defeats.

“But for me, I believe that there are limited chances in your career,” he said. “I have lost a lot of opportunities through injuries and I know the years are going quick, so there is not 10 more chances to keep playing here.”

The statistics illustrate Nadal’s concerns: He has missed at least eight Slam tournaments in his career through a legacy of wrist and knee problems.

Such is his motivation to win today, that the task facing Austrian 24-year-old Thiem was described as “almost impossible” by Del Potro, who believes that Nadal is playing better than he has for years.

“It is almost impossible to beat Rafa,” said Del Potro, who had his chances in the semi-final, but failed to convert any of his seven break points before his challenge petered out into weary hopelessness.

Nadal raced away with 14 of the last 17 games.

“He’s too strong. He’s improving his backhand a lot. That’s why he’s the No. 1 and beating all the guys,” Del Potro said. “He looks fresh. He is healthy, and the strength that he has and the mentality, everything is perfect, works perfect for him playing on clay.”

However, there have appeared to be one or two chinks in his armor.

On Friday, Del Potro was by far the better player in the first set, while in the quarter-finals, Diego Schwartzman won the first set of his clash with Nadal. It was the first time in three years that Nadal had dropped a set in Paris.

“You can win a set, but not a match against Rafa,” Del Potro said, keen not to over-egg any hint of weakness in Nadal’s game.

At least Thiem has in the past found the key to unraveling the Nadal clay court enigma.

He is the only man to beat the world No. 1 on clay in the past two years — in Madrid this spring and in Rome last year.

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