Nadal is through 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 after resuming in the relatively perilous position of 6-4 3-5 against diminutive Argentinian Diego Schwartzman, who could not sustain his challenge after giving the great Spaniard a major scare on Wednesday.
The world number one, bidding for a record-extending 11th title, clinched the second set soon after the restart.
"It's hard to better the performance he had past year here", Moya said of Nadal's 2017 masterpiece. I think this is too good of an opportunity for Thiem to pass up.
Nadal, 32, won 6-4 6-1 6-2 to set up a meeting with Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem in Sunday's final.
Nadal has never failed to win the title when reaching the last four at Roland Garros, but knows that Del Potro, who he has lost to five times, is a risky opponent.
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But the 16-time major victor looked in danger of being beaten here for only the third time in his career, trailing a set and break on Wednesday to an opponent who had never previously been beyond the last 32.
After dropping the first two sets he played in the opening round, Cecchinato came back to win that match in five sets, then proceeded to string together upsets.
However, his fearless approach was completely ruined by the rain delays and allowed Nadal to regain control.
"He is tall so Rafa's shots don't bounce over his shoulder, he has big weapons, the serve which gives him free points and the forehand which is the biggest in the game and he can hit through Nadal's forehand with it. He's a player that can be adapted more to the clay, it will be tough". This year, he has a chance to stop Rafael Nadal, who seems en route to his 11th title here. "If I play defensively and I don't take intensity, I will be lost".
"I believe that there is chances, limited chances in your career", Nadal said.
"Before it I was not opening the court with the backhand". He was taking the ball earlier than me.
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Schwartzman is a rare sight in the modern men's game, standing just 5ft 7in, but his stature has not prevented him rising to a career-high 12th in the world rankings.
The 29-year-old was in tears after the win. A day later, it was rarely used as effectively.
"Thiem beat me in Madrid this year and played with big power".
Nadal emerged victorious in straight sets, including a memorable second in which he dropped just the one game.
An easy smash into the net midway through the fourth set characterised his problems, a total of 25 unforced errors compared to eight winners in the final two sets underlining the pressure being put on by Nadal. His return points percentage of 35 was better than Nadal's 31. If Nadal is good enough to get to the last hurdle, he's sure to cross it.
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