Dominic Thiem through to French Open final with straight sets win over Marco Cecchinato
Dominic Thiem survived a nasty bout of the jitters to see off Marco Cecchinato and reach his first grand slam final.
The Austrian was in control of his French Open semi-final against the world number 72, holding three set points in a tie-break for a 2-0 lead.
However, the enormity of finally reaching the Roland Garros showpiece after two consecutive last-four defeats suddenly seemed to hit Thiem.
Having squandered one set point, he went in for a simple backhand volley winner only to dump it into the net.
The third quickly disappeared as well and Cecchinato had set points of his own, but Thiem finally put the Italian away before going on to win 7-5 7-6 (12/10) 6-1.
"I think the big key was the second set because it was a close tie-break," said the 24-year-old.
"I saved two set points and luckily I won it. It was 6-4 and the one thing I wanted to do was win the set - and I missed an easy volley at one moment which was not a nice feeling."
Cecchinato had sent Novak Djokovic packing in a thrilling quarter-final but Thiem's class on clay proved too much.
The drop shots which helped account for Djokovic kept Thiem on his toes throughout, but once the pivotal tie-break went the seventh seed's way Cecchinato's unlikely run was all but over.
His Paris heroics have not exactly been the uplifting tale they should have been, though.
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. The 25-year-old has refused to answer questions on the matter throughout the fortnight.
Nevertheless, Cecchinato can look back on a breakthrough tournament - he had never won a match at a grand slam before beating Marius Copil 10-8 in the fifth set last week.
"For me it was a special tournament," he said. "I played two sets the same level against Dominic Thiem. I think he's the second or third-best player on clay.
"If I'd won the second set I think it is totally different, the third set. But after the loss, I went a little bit down mentally."