French Open 2019, Final: Rafael Nadal Vs Dominic Thiem, Preview and Prediction
In the lead up to his semi-final clash at Roland Garros this year, Novak Djokovic hadn’t dropped a single set.
But, in the second semi-final on Parisian clay, a match that spread over two days, World No. 4 Dominic Thiem stunned the World No.1 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 in 4 hour 13 minutes to storm into his second successive final at the French Open.
The loss at the hands of Dominic Thiem in the semis also ends Djokovic’s triple Grand Slam winning streak that began at last year’s Wimbledon and in the process also ends his quest towards winning his 2nd ‘Nole Slam’ of his career at this year’s French Open.
Following his sensational win over the Serb, which was perhaps the most significant victory of his career so far, the 25-year old and heir apparent to Rafael Nadal's throne meets the King of Clay himself in the finals at Paris in a rematch from last year.
For Rafael Nadal, he breezed past his old nemesis Roger Federer in what was the most anticipated and awaited match of this clay season in straight-sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in 2 hours 25 minutes to enter his record 12th French Open final.
In windy conditions, the Spaniard was at his dominant best against his biggest rival in the semi-final, putting on an exhibition of some fascinating, magnificent cross-court backhands.
With Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem, two of the present day’s best clay courters set to clash yet again for the French Open crown, we can expect some absorbing and jaw-dropping clay court tennis of this season.
If Roger Federer was Spaniard’s No.1 rival in the early stages of his career and Djokovic being his biggest nemesis in the middle stages of his career, Dominic Thiem by far has been Nadal’s biggest threat in the twilight of his career.
The upbeat 25-year old Austrian has managed to conquer Nadal four times in four successive years on clay so far, including his win over the Spaniard at Barcelona earlier this clay court season.
Their head to head rivalry which the King of Clay leads 8-4 has all been about their closely fought battles on their most favoured surface, clay. In their encounters thus far, each other on 11 out of 12 has been on the red dirt.
Even though it is true that the hugely talented Austrian has got better of the King of Clay on four occasions so far, all those wins have come at the Masters level events.
On the previous three occasions when Nadal and Thiem stood on the opposite sides of the net at Roland Garros, 25-year old has not even managed to win a set against the Spaniard.
Nadal, who appeared to be circumspect about his game and vulnerable after succumbing to triple semi-final losses in the earlier part of the clay season, regrouped himself brilliantly since he stepped out to play at Rome Masters 1000.
En route his appearance to the final of the French Open, the Spaniard has just lost one set so far and looks to be in complete control and on course towards winning his unprecedented 12th French Open crown on Sunday.
For Dominic Thiem, following his twin title wins at Indian Wells and Barcelona earlier this year and his magnificent run to the French Open final yet again, 2019 so far has been coming of an age kind of a year for the talented Austrian.
In 2017, at the semi-finals and in 2018, at the finals, Thiem’s quest towards his first French Open title was halted by none other than the rampant Rafael Nadal.
Can the 25-year old Austrian learning from his past mistakes and with a sense of renewed confidence following a glorious win over the World No.1, cross the final frontier this time around?
However, one more factor that can play a crucial role in the upcoming final at Paris and cannot be discounted for is the mental freshness and physical rest.
While the defending champion Nadal would be well rested and fresh for the final following a relatively easy win over Federer, mental fatigue and physical exhaustion can kick in for his challenger,Thiem, following victory over Djokovic.
Will Nadal still reign in Paris, registering his record-extending 12th French Open title and 18th Major overall? Or can Thiem stun Nadal in his own fortress to create history in the finals at Roland Garros?
An intriguing, absorbing and mind-boggling encounter between the ‘King’ and the ‘Prince’ of clay awaits us and it would be fascinating to witness how the drama unfolds.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in four sets.