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'We often talk about football' - Dominic Thiem on his relationship with Rafael Nadal

Dominic Thiem lost to Rafael Nadal in the 2018 French Open final
Dominic Thiem lost to Rafael Nadal in the 2018 French Open final
Modified 04 Sep 2020, 12:05 IST

Austrian tennis star Dominic Thiem has achieved a lot in his young career, and many experts expect him to win his first Grand Slam title soon. The 27-year-old has made it to two French Open finals so far, and has lost to Rafael Nadal on both occasions.

Dominic Thiem recently launched his new website, where he discussed his relationship with Rafael Nadal. The World No. 3 has a 5-9 head-to-head record against The King of Clay, and has nothing but respect for him.

Thiem won their most recent meeting, in the 2020 Australian Open quarterfinals.

Talking about Nadal, Thiem stated that he got along well with the Spaniard, and that the two of them often had conversations about football. The Austrian also revealed that the 19-time Grand Slam champion has a good sense of humor.

My rivalry with Rafael Nadal on clay is unique to me: Dominic Thiem

Rafael Nadal has battled Dominic Thiem on hardcourt only twice
Rafael Nadal has battled Dominic Thiem on hardcourt only twice

As mentioned above, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem have met each other 14 times on the ATP tour, and 12 of the 14 encounters have taken place on clay. And although Nadal is known to be supremely dominant on the surface, he has lost as many as four claycourt matches to Thiem.

Their first meeting took place back in the second round of the 2014 French Open, and they have also battled in the past two Roland Garros finals. Dominic Thiem is yet to beat Rafael Nadal in Paris, but he has three straight-sets claycourt victories over The King of Clay.

When asked about his rivalry with Rafael Nadal, Thiem said:

"With him I have delivered the most duels, delivered my most epic matches to date. My rivalry with Rafa on clay is unique to me because there has never been a better player on this surface."

Their other two matches took place at the 2018 US Open and the 2020 Australian Open, both proving to be thrilling encounters. While Rafael Nadal progressed to the US Open semis in 2018, Dominic Thiem secured himself a place in the semifinals with a win over Nadal at the Australian Open earlier this year.

The Austrian continued:

"Australian Open 2020 and US Open 2018 were the closest encounters. Won in four sets in the quarterfinals in Melbourne, winning a tiebreak three times for me. In New York, I had to be beaten in five sets in the quarterfinals. At 6-7 in the decider, a match that lasted nearly five hours. A gigantic thriller, the big stage in the Ashe Stadium with 23,000 fans. Everywhere it crackled, a great atmosphere!"

Lastly, Dominic Thiem spoke about his off-court friendship with Rafael Nadal, and their shared love for football.

"A nice, nice guy. We often talk about football, he's off the pitch and he's also got a sense of humor."
Rafael Nadal is a 12-time French Open winner
Rafael Nadal is a 12-time French Open winner

Nadal opted to skip the hard-court tourneys in the US. The left-handed player will resume his season during the clay swing, where Dominic Thiem will be keen to avenge his last two French Open defeats.

Published 04 Sep 2020, 12:05 IST
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