Thiem reached his first grand slam final at Roland Garros with a comfortable defeat of Marco Cecchinato, meaning he will face Nadal after the 10-time victor swept aside Juan Martin del Potro in the second semi-final.
"I think that was my chance of the match", del Potro said of the break points he held at 4-all in the opening set of Nadal's 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 blitz. When you're in a final like Roland Garros, it's a great happiness. For me it's incredible.
"I came here without big expectations, just seeing how my body feels match by match".
"If it's going to be him on Sunday, I will try everything so that my plan is also going to work out a little bit here and not only in Madrid or in Rome". I believe I can be ready for that final. However, he was beaten in the most recent - the US Open semi-final past year - and has lost nine of their 14 matches overall.
This was del Potro's first semifinal appearance at a Grand Slam since making a comeback after his injury three years ago.
Del Potro said the Austrian, the only player to beat Nadal on clay over the past two seasons, has a chance - albeit a slim one. "It was nearly impossible to beat him", del Potro said.
Del Potro has served 53 aces to reach the semi-final and his forehand, a stroke that could chop down trees, worries the very best as he showed by beating Roger Federer at last year's U.S. Open and winning the Indian Wells title in March.
Nadal also had 35 winners and 19 unforced errors, while Del Potro finished with 20 winners and 32 unforced errors. I think this is too good of an opportunity for Thiem to pass up.
Said Schwartzman: "Rafa was totally different guy yesterday, and today the match changed a lot".
Despite rain delaying his passage through to the final, Rafa Nadal has continued his incredible Roland Garros record by reaching yet another showpiece in France.
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"He's been a very complex opponent".
This is a good attitude to have when you play against Rafael Nadal, who gleans invincibility from the orange-red dust in Paris.
He is 10-0 in French Open finals and 77-0 at the tournament overall when he wins the first set, so getting a jump on him early - a tactic far easier to write about than to execute - would seem to be a fairly obvious strategy.
Cecchinato's career has been tainted by his involvement in a match-fixing scandal; he was banned for 18 months in 2016 before having the suspension overturned.
In the second-set tiebreaker on Friday, Thiem went ahead 6-3 but missed out on three set points there, including a bad volley into the net at 6-4 that left him chewing ruefully on his left index finger.
"He's never been there before, it's a big surprise but he didn't fall into the semi-finals, he beat David Goffin and Novak Djokovic and he has played really well", he said.
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.