Plenty have gone in with sound tactical plans against the 16-times Grand Slam champion in Paris but when the forehand bombardment begins, the best-laid plans usually fall apart as was the case in Friday's semi-final when Nadal thrashed Juan Martin del Potro who many thought posed a credible threat.
But Nadal's domination on the Roland Garros clay, where his record now stands at 85-2, is without equal and he will be a huge favourite to beat Grand Slam final debutant Thiem.
He appears poised to take home a title-win at the French Open at some point and this year could be it.
Nadal tightened his grip, going to 5-1 on another double break in the third set and sealed the match when Del Potro hit a backhand long.World 72 Cecchinato had knocked out three seeded players to reach the semi-finals, including 12-time major victor Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.But Thiem, 24, was too strong and now believes he has a particularly powerful weapon on his side for the final - breakfast. For Nadal it would be title number eleven in Paris and a seventeenth Major overall, for Thiem it is a first final at a Slam.
In a clash between the undisputed king and the only man who has offered a contest to his mastery of the clay courts, Rafael Nadal takes on Dominic Thiem for the biggest prize of them all, Roland Garros.More news: Officer rescues toddler running on side of IL highway
Once Nadal stole the opener with a break in the 10th game, it was one-way traffic as he left Del Potro trailing in a cloud of Parisian clay dust to set up a final against Dominic Thiem.
"If you lose, you lose, but I'm going to play with my highest passion and love for the game and for the sport, to try to have success". Those conditions might have contributed to the cramping that affected Nadal about two hours into the final, at 2-1 in the third set.
Ah, but there's a reason Nadal is 11-0 in semifinals at the French Open, a reason he is 10-0 in finals there - so far.
"I know how to play against him", he said, without elaborating.
"You can win a set, but not a match against Rafa", said Del Potro keen not to over-egg any hint of weakness in Nadal's game.More news: De Gea demands public apology from Spanish PM
But once he squandered that chance against Thiem, the Italian ended up falling to a 7-5 7-6 (10) 6-1 defeat. If Thiem can not find the court enough with his attempted winners, then the match will swing in Nadal's favour.
"It's not easy. I've been on court just a couple of minutes ago".
"For sure", said Thiem's coach, Gunter Bresnik, "this gives you a little hope". "If I want to beat him, I have to play that way like I did in Rome and in Madrid. That was not a nice feeling".
He led by two sets plus a break early in the third, when the middle finger on his racket-wielding left hand was cramping so badly he couldn't straighten it. Stephens won last year's US Open; Halep is 0-3 in major finals.
Thiem saved a first breakpoint in that game but couldn't save the second, hitting a forehand wide. He then crushed a tired looking Zverev 6-4 6-2 6-1 before halting the fairy tale run of Cecchinato 7-6 7-6 6-1.More news: Can Neymar help Brazil forget their 2014 disaster?