He probably felt as though he had been, as Nadal completed a devastating 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory.
"Forget the 10 (French Open titles) and forget what happened a year ago, Thiem has to remember what happened in Madrid which is a title Nadal wants to win nearly as much as the French", Wilander, Eurosport's chief analyst, told Reuters.
But Paris, to tweak the title of Ernest Hemingway's famous love letter to the city, has been a predictable feast for Nadal. After holding there, Nadal broke del Potro to take that set and was on his way, taking 14 of the past 17 games. His appetite was audible in the long, trailing groans of effort that echoed around the old concrete stadium. "I just enjoy the fact that I am here again".
The reason I limit the question to the Open Era is two-fold; one, the lack of opportunity in the Amateur Era and two, the lack of historical data for a lot of players of the past.
Fitness permitting, Nadal is arguably the most in-form player in world tennis at the present moment and his record at Roland Garros is barely believable.
They tried their best to rouse their man in the third set but it was mission impossible as Nadal, clubbing the ball as if his life depended on it, finished like a raging bull as he headed into his 24th Grand Slam final.
"I think also a good thing is that I faced him already twice here".
Thirteen years on and his record next to the Bois de Boulogne stands at an incredible 85 wins and two losses.
The vanquished del Potro acknowledged as much as he reflected on the brief stretch where he was able to put up some resistance to Nadal's unremitting intensity.
Nadal has beaten Thiem handily in straight sets in both of their Roland-Garros matches, though, including last year's semi-final.More news: Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot Is An Upcoming VR Game Where You Hack Nazi Robots
Increasingly frustrated at Cecchinato's resistance, Thiem lost his composure completely in the second set.
"What will be important will be to try and make him play in uncomfortable situations", said Moya, the 1998 French Open champion.
But that was only after Nadal had allowed him just two games in a last-eight mauling in Monte Carlo.
Clay specialist Thiem made the last four at Roland Garros in both 2016 and 2017 but fell short against eventual winners Novak Djokovic and Nadal, continuing his wait for a first grand slam final.
Bresnik likes Thiem's current state of mind and form after encouraging him to play at the low-level ATP event in Lyon, France, the week before Roland Garros.
Thiem has been to the semifinals in Paris three years in a row.
Should Nadal win on Sunday it will give him a 17th Grand Slam title, just three behind great rival Roger Federer. The fifth-seeded Argentine had forced six break points, but Nadal tackled them cleverly to keep Del Potro at bay. And he set up a French Open final that, pardon the cliché, is a worthy clash between the king of clay and the man hailed as the prince.
Thiem is looking to become only the second Austrian player - man or woman - to win a Grand Slam title after Thomas Muster's French Open victory in 1995. We see each other every year in Vienna. He is in the age of improvement.
On Friday, he was on par with the Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem for two sets and even had set points to level the contest at one-set all.
In Madrid, Thiem said the key was to be positive against Nadal.