We crunch the numbers between Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem as they bid to win a maiden Grand Slam title
PARIS, FRANCE – Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem face each other for the second straight year – can Thiem do the seemingly impossible and beat the King of Clay in his own palace?
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The Prince of Clay Dominic Thiem puts himself in the position to challenge the King of Clay Rafael Nadal for the second straight year – after an extended passage of disrupted plat over the past couple of days, can he give Nadal a test?
Head to Head
Rafael Nadal 
Dominic Thiem 
This will be their 13th meeting, their fifth at a Grand Slam and their fourth at Roland Garros. This is also their fourth time in a Tour-level final – this has already started to develop into an intriguing rivalry. Thiem has yet to beat Nadal in a final.
Obviously it goes without saying that Nadal has been knocking around for a little bit more than young Thiem and so has the lions share of titles, but Thiem has been a little luckier on the titles front in 2019, winning Indian Wells, and Barcelona this year, while Nadal scooped Rome in the lead up to Roland Garros
Year to Date/Career W/L Record
All surfaces W/L
31/5 / 949-194
23-8 / 248-137
20-3 / 435-39
17-5 / 128-43
Both have had a decent run up to Roland Garros, with Nadal a little more consistent as the season wore on. Three semi-finals and now the French Open final puts him firmly at the top of this tree.
Match Stats 2019 (Source: ITF Match Notes)
7-2 (2 x 5-Set)
If Thiem does hang with Nadal towards the business end of a set, he will hope not to head into a tie-break with a poor record this year. He might stand a better chance for a 7-5 win as he did twice with a decisive break against Novak Djokovic.
Nadal has barely been tested this tournament, while Thiem has taken quite the scenic route at times. However what did impress in his semi-final was a supreme level of fitness. What looked like normal winners from the World No. 1 were retrieved time and again by Thiem. He stands a decent chance to go toe-to-toe
There is little to separate them on their first and second serve percentage points won, with Thiem a little stronger behind his first serve. Nadal edging ahead on his second. Where Nadal has been a lot stronger is winning receiving points, and if he is given an opportunity to dominate, Thiem will find himself very much on the back-foot. The Austrian will look for cheap points and aces and has been just a little less wasteful on the double-faults. He has more winners (admittedly across more sets of tennis) but outstrips Nadal on unforced errors.
What they had to say
Roland Garros has become the domain of the King of Clay – but instead of complaining about the weather and the impact, Thiem has taken it all in his stride as the Prince of Clay looks to dethrone Nadal.
“Luckily I didn’t have so many long matches before today. And today and yesterday, of course, was tough. It’s probably a little bit more difficult to play these four hours with all the interruption than if you played in one time.
“But still, I’m feeling fine. I’m full of adrenaline, of course, still from today’s match, and also, I will have that tomorrow. So, I’m not going to be tired. It’s all going to come after the tournament. So, I’m ready to leave all or everything what I have out on the court tomorrow
“It’s not the first time that that happens in tennis, and it’s not going to be the last time. That’s our sport. I mean, we are used to it, that we never know when we’re gonna play or sometimes we supposed to have a day off, and then, because of rain or other things, we don’t have. So, it’s okay, I think.”
Nadal never allows himself to be ruffled by the records that he s about to break, should he win a 12th title here. And well he should be cautious as Thiem out-Djokovic-ed Djokovic.
“Being in final of Roland Garros again means a lot again and especially coming back from not an easy situation for all the injuries that I had. Being able to recover the level that I had the last couple of weeks is something that I am very proud of.
And I am just focused on keep going and keep doing my thing well.”
Prediction: Nadal in four sets
The Roland Garros Men’s Singles Final takes place on 9 June not before 3pm (2pm BST).
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