Nadal certainly lived up to his "King of Clay" nickname in Friday's semifinal against Juan Martin del Potro, crushing the sentimental favorite 6-4 6-1 6-2 to reach a record 11th final at Roland Garros.
Del Potro pulled up with a hip complaint as he trailed 2-1 in the first set against Nadal, but despite clear discomfort, he fought on and made it a dogged affair until surrendering a break that gave the world No. 1 an advantage.
On Sunday, he takes on Dominic Thiem in the final as he looks to claim his 11th Roland Garros title and extend his record at Paris.
In Sunday's final, Nadal will face No. 7 Dominic Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria who is the only man to beat him on red clay over the past two seasons.
Nadal has dropped just one set en route to the final while Thiem lost three - one against each of Stefanos Tsitsipas (round two), Matteo Berrettini (round three) and Kei Nishikori (round four). For me it's incredible.More news: Marcelo: Cristiano Ronaldo does not own Real Madrid - Neymar is welcome
"Everybody knows that I was close to quit this sport two years ago, but then I, for one reason, I never give up".
"I have a very hard match against a player that is playing great", 16-time Grand Slam victor Nadal said. "I'm so happy to be in the final again", said Nadal afterward.
"I think that was my chance of the match", Del Potro said of the ninth game. Nadal saved that second trio of break points Friday, held there, then broke in the next game to grab that set.
Nadal is now 10-5 in his career against del Porto. "That's why he's the No. 1 and beating all the guys", Del Potro said.
Nadal, a 10-time champion at Roland Garros, had not ceded a set in Paris since 2015, when he was beaten in the quarterfinals by Novak Djokovic.
Spain's Nadal will next play another Argentine Juan Martin del Potro after the former US Open champion beat Marin Cilic 7-6 5-7 6-3 7-5.More news: Savannah Phillips Prince George Trooping the Colour celebrations
Thiem, meanwhile, becomes the first Austrian to reach a Grand Slam final since Thomas Muster triumphed at Roland Garros in 1995.
Cecchinato, the world number 72, played fearlessly and used his whole arsenal of claycourt weapons, but he came up short against the only player to beat Nadal on his favourite surface this season.
This time, Thiem instead faced Cecchinato (cheh-key-NAH'-toe), a 25-year-old from Sicily who never had won a Grand Slam match until this tournament and was the lowest-ranked men's semifinalist at the clay-court major in 19 years.
"If lost that tiebreak it would have been a very close match I think and I didn't want that". Basically, it's typical Nadal in the French Open.
Rafael Nadal is into yet another French Open final. Cecchinato was accused of match-fixing and suspended for 18 months in 2016, but he appealed, and his punishment was dropped on a technicality. If it's soggy and the court slows down, that will blunt some of Nadal's power and not allow his forehand to get as high on Thiem's one-hand backhand.
Thiem weathered three set points for Cecchinato, at 7-6, 9-8 and 10-9. It was the last ATP match of his second career [returning after a freak roadside accident in Miami in 1989]. It's something we're aware of, it just happened in the last couple of matches, it's not something that is happening very often with him.More news: Navy says China stole large amount of data