Men’s Final:  Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs.  Dominic Thiem (AUT)
Thiem came a lot closer to upsetting the king than the score indicates. It was a physical and mental battle for both; however, that was not a surprise. It was the first Masters final for Thiem and that alone was enough to generate pressure. In addition he had the unenviable task of beating the king of clay in the final and on home soil. For Nadal, it was the pressure of expectation and his desire not to disappoint the crowd. As he stated yesterday, he was nervous when he served to close out the match against Novak Djokovic and we saw that again today.
They both had to fight through the nerves and in addition, Thiem had to fight through his disappointment. He played such brilliant tennis in the first set and to lose it so narrowly in the tiebreak quenched his enthusiasm briefly. That brief lack of focus was all Nadal needed to get the early break in the second set and he fought fiercely to maintain that lead. Thiem had opportunities; however, as we have seen so often with Nadal on any surface, but more so on clay, he will fight for every point and wear his opponents down. There were a few tense moments for Nadal and he came really close to letting Thiem back into the match; however, Thiem just could not capitalize on his opportunities and Nadal won again 7-6(8), 6-4.
This is the third consecutive title for the king and all three has been on clay and two of them were Masters 1000 events. With this victory, Nadal tied Djokovic for the most Masters 1000 title at thirty (30) and moves back to number four in the ranking tomorrow.
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