Nitto ATP Finals 2020: Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem preview, head-to-head & prediction

Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Andrey Rublev
Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Andrey Rublev

Match details

Fixture: (2) Rafael Nadal vs (3) Dominic Thiem

Date: 17 November 2020

Tournament: Nitto ATP Finals 2020

Round: Round-robin stage

Venue: London, United Kingdom

Category: ATP Finals

Surface: Indoor hardcourt

Prize money: $5,700,000

Match timing: Not Before 2 pm GMT, 7:30 PM IST

Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem preview

After a comfortable win over the in-form Andrey Rublev on Sunday, Rafael Nadal is now set to take on World No. 3 Dominic Thiem as he continues his bid for a first ever ATP Finals title. The two heavyweights will lock horns in the afternoon session (GMT) match on Tuesday.

The Mallorcan won a whopping 82% of his first serve points and didn't concede a single break point in his 6-3, 6-4 opening match win. Nadal also attacked Rublev's second serve with gusto, giving absolutely no breathing space to the Russian.

The two-time runner-up employed every shot in his repertoire to leave his young opponent clutching at straws in most rallies.

Dominic Thiem on the other hand was given a tough time by defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek used his powerful serve and bludgeoning forehand to put pressure on Thiem, who went 1-4 down in the first set tiebreak.

Dominic Thiem in his match against Stefanos Tsitsipas
Dominic Thiem in his match against Stefanos Tsitsipas

But the Austrian’s forehand became the differentiating factor as the match wore on. Thiem repeatedly peppered Tsitsipas' backhand with his inside-out missiles, and the Greek eventually succumbed.

Thiem seems to have recovered well from his injury in the Paris Masters, and with one win under his belt already, he will likely grow in confidence as the tournament progresses.

Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem head-to-head

Rafael Nadal leads Dominic Thiem by a margin of 9-5 in the head-to-head. They have played twice on outdoor hardcourt with each player winning once, but they have never played on an indoor hardcourt.

Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem prediction

Rafael Nadal (L) and Dominic Thiem at the 2020 Australian Open
Rafael Nadal (L) and Dominic Thiem at the 2020 Australian Open

In his match against Andrey Rublev, Rafael Nadal showed that he is ready to adapt to the conditions and make the necessary changes to his game. The Spaniard was a lot more proactive than usual on the return, often finding himself well within the baseline to dispatch clean winners.

Dominic Thiem needs to be wary of Nadal's newfound aggression, and perhaps mix up his serve to prevent the Spaniard from getting into a rhythm. Thiem would also look to get Nadal out of position in the rallies by employing his much-improved slice backhand liberally.

Nadal's first serve clocked above 120mph consistently against Rublev, while the second serve wasn't far behind, hovering around the 100mph mark. If he continues serving as big, Thiem would likely try to give himself as much time as possible by setting up camp well behind the baseline.

This match has all the ingredients to be a blockbuster. But Rafael Nadal seems to be playing with more freedom and conviction than Thiem right now, which might tilt the scales in his favor.

Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in three sets.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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