FRENCH OPEN: Nadal vs. Thiem

Nadal Thiem 2018 RG final

It was inevitable that they would contest a final at Roland Garros; after all, Dominic Thiem is considered by many to be the heir to the throne of clay, once Rafael Nadal steps down. The question that many have, “Will it happen on Sunday?” With eight of his ten titles coming on clay, the Austrian knows how to play on this surface and this is the third consecutive year that he has made it to the semifinals at Roland Garros and his first time in the final.

Nine times they have played each other and all has taken place on clay. This will be the third time they face off at Roland Garros and Nadal has won both previous encounters in straight sets. Nadal also leads 2:0 in finals.Thiem has defeated Nadal three times and this includes the recent defeat in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open last month. If it’s any consolation, Nadal has never lost back-to-back matches to the Austrian, which may work in Nadal’s favor; however, this is the final of a major and all bets are off. Thiem “has a plan” and unless Nadal can counter his attack, the Austrian will be hoisting his first major trophy on tomorrow.

The dethroning of the king of grass had no such drama as there was only one match played between the king, Pete Sampras, and the heir, Roger Federer. Sampras did not go down without a fight though. It took three hours and forty-one minutes for Federer to wrestle the throne away from Sampras in five sets. Sampras was ranked sixth at that time and Federer was ranked fifteenth. It was a bitter moment for all Sampras fans; however, it was inevitable. Sampras had struggled in the first and second rounds and had been pushed to five sets by a player ranked 265, inconceivable (2001 Wimbledon).

No king reigns forever. It would be awesome if Nadal can win his eleventh Roland Garros title tomorrow; yet, his fans know that this will not be an easy match for the king. Thiem has even more power than Simone Bolelli and he moves a lot better; if he can win the first set and apply the pressure early, he will increase his chances significantly of coming away with the victory. Nadal is not twenty-something anymore and as great as he is, how much does he really have left in the tank to face the challenge of Thiem?

SOURCE OF IMAGE: (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images Europe: Dominic Thiem)


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