Nadal is up two sets to zip over Thiem as I begin this post, 63 64. I’ll have to re-write this if Dominic comes back and makes this really really interesting. But I really doubt that’s going to happen (the match has thus ended, as I edit this, with Nadal closing out the final set bageling the apprentice).
Nadal is giving Thiem a clay lesson on the Court Philippe-Chatrier at Roland Garros today. Not sure many of us saw this, which is almost like the Djokovic Thiem Rome SF a few weeks ago. There were a few short breaths of competitive tennis in the first two sets today (I didn’t eve watch the third set — it’s taped 😉 but the early advantage in both two sets pretty much set the tone, a clear irrefutable tone. Rafa has out-played the youngster throughout. Even from the baseline. We have seen Rafa come to net, but really this is actually more a part of his game than people think; I just thought he might need to do it a little more given the Austrian’s strength from the baseline. But the 9-time French Open champ hasn’t needed to as he’s out-hitting the Austrian from the baseline.
The summary is Rafa out-hitting Thiem (out playing him really in every way) and Thiem coming apart due to over-hitting, over-cooking his shots (too often and at that wrong time, which is pretty much saying the same thing. The apprentice needs patience like all of us apprentices need). He needs to take something off many of those ground strokes, play more maturely. A pretty obvious observation, sure.
This was the same formula in the Wawrinka match early on. He was so intent on finishing the point with his big Stan muscles that he got pretty embarrassed in that first set; for a brief moment he had a serve for 5-2. Lost the set in a TB, a set rife with Wawrinka over-hitting and error committing. Murray looked the steadier of the two.
The way the match developed, and to temper some of my criticism of Stan, is Andy played some very good tennis, very good major championship tennis. With his over-lord lording over the proceedings from the player’s box, Andy is a legitimate major championship men’s final four ticket; he’s worth the price of admission despite his tendency to chirp and bitch at the tennis gods (he should just look obediently to Lendl’s shade-covered glare between points and download the appropriate program – as Lendl is to Murray’s tennis as God is to this imperfect world of humanity).
Murray seems to have gotten his tennis going in the right direction. I suspect he will be quite the factor at The Championships at Wimbledon.
The Brit did bring that “defensive brilliance” I mentioned in my caveat to the prediction in my preview, but more to his credit: he out-hit the Swiss at times, showing some comparable offense and just gutsy tennis during critical moments of the match. Maybe I’ll post some of my tweets later, as I was chirping a bit.
So I have to qualify my criticism of Stan because Murray played valiantly, only finally going away in the fifth, 1-6. Murray is fit, but Stan is a tennis bully in these big matches over the last few years. Incredible really. He did this at the 2016 U.S. Open, where throughout the draw he would come-out slow, lose a first set, likely. Then wear-out his victim. Brutal tennis.
I don’t think he had his “A” game at all today, however. He needed that fifth set in a bad way.
Indeed, this first SF was a roller coaster, in the end Wawrinka surprising me as I had doubts midway through the match as the Swiss 3-seed decided it was time for an unforced error harvest, in June for God’s sake.
I lost count of UE when he had 70 (to Andy’s 30) in the fourth set.
Wawrinka is an enigma, to say the least (an entirely advanced discussion for another time). He stumbled and bumbled through this until late in the fourth and the fifth. I was not overly impressed though from a point-to-point read there was some truly magnificent points where these warriors showed real character and tennis genius.
We have the final that we predicted and wanted, so no one’s really complaining over hear: Nadal vs. Wawrinka.
I’ll push myself and write-up a little preview later, but I’m afraid there’s not much to say (of course, I will find something to say).
Lastly, in both matches (in both cases), here’s one of the thoughts I started to grapple with: the one-handers are posing an interesting philosophical question about the existence of a dominant one-hander on clay. Is it simply not to be?
We had a nice little offense-first one-hander vs. the classic two-hander defender parallel in both matches.
Like I said, what adds to this parallel is that Stan and Dom suffered a bit of what may be inherent to the one-hander – a riskier brand of tennis that has trouble sustaining and surviving in these clay street-fights that can go on and on and . . .
Stan and Dom, we all agree, have the brand that will sell a championship level tennis at Roland Garros (Stan has already proven this). But both styles made me nervous today.
Nadal looks absolutely in charge. Wow.
Actually, I do look forward to exploring this final a bit later.
And sorry if some of this seems a bit wayward – I’ve had about 3 hours of sleep, am fighting an addiction to tennis and am writing these before the last ball has even scurried into the net.
Talk to you again soon. Ha ha.
6 thoughts on “Nadal vs Wawrinka Roland Garros Final”
I had massive hopes for the Nadal/Them SF going by Thiem’s recent run and pristine form I was sure this was going to be the “true final” before the actual final. How wrong I was. Nadal, when in the zone, is nigh unplayable! And I hate to remind myself of this fact, but as I use to say he can come in a wheelchair and still dominate at Roland Garros.
At 31 years of age, he is still as tenacious as when he was in his physical prime back in the day, what he lacks in power and speed these days he sure can make up with his immense knowledge of clay-court style perfection. The tennis gods were right, and my gut feeling that Thiem was at the verge of a GS breakthrough were quickly shot down by the clay king. Must be a tough pill to swallow being manhandled like that by Nadal in the third set, ouch!
Wawrinka turned a “done deal” into a hassle today, credit to the Scottish warrior for showing a lot of heart and almost tipping the balance in his favour. If Stanimal doesn’t show up to the final, it will be a massacre out there.
The first SF was pretty dramatic; Stan looked off at the start, but finished decisively.
We’ll preview the match-up a little later.
The interest earned on that RG legacy is still paying dividends for Nadal. He has really never been challenged there, other than Soderling.
He is an absolute monster in those conditions (clay) and should claim #10.
We can talk more about this perhaps after I lob a few more thoughts into the stiff breeze of RG, so to speak.
By the way, I hypothesize that your prediction (a bit off there, my lord) was really a hedge, which we often do to soften the blow when a favorite of ours could get beat; you’re covering all your bases.
You nailed the QF, whiffed the SF, but I’m crediting you with the classic hedge on that Nadal prediction. Am I right or am I right?
The Nadal-Thiem SF highlighted a few flaws in Thiem’s game which people rarely talk about.
Thiem’s game against Nadal seemed like a gorgeous house without good foundations.
When pushed back on the BH side, he rather quickly got in trouble with his SHBH and was often forced to use a defensive slice, a shot which usually gets punished immediately by Nadal by his next shot.
When pushed back on the FH side, he went much too early for an agressive winner without having the consistency to execute those shots with the acquired accuracy.
Good foundations on clay translate(s) in being able to keep the ball ball in(to) play for a long period of time, being able to stay in the rallies and wait the right moment to attack, in other words being able to respect the kairos principle.
For some reason Thiem apparently doesn’t dispose of those qualities yet.
As I see it Wawrinka ‘s got more maturity in his game and seems less vulnarable in those departments (mentioned with regard to Thiem’s game). Stan has more balance in the strengths of his defence and offence than Dominic.
But I don’t think he’s good enough to beat Nadal, because of whom Nadal is (particularly on clay).
Because to me Nadal is not the one tricky pony, not the guy who has only one tactic at his disposal.
Nadal’s got it all.
Rafael disposes of an arsenal of great tools: excellent first and second serve which are not easy attackable, magnificent FH’s and BH, very efficient dropshots, exellent lobs and overheads (on the FH as well as BH side), good volleys at the net, you name it.
Rafael also senses, like a sixth sense, the flow of a rally, and knows almost intuitively when to go for his shots and charge the net, and has the stamina to stay in a long point when needed.
And above all, he has the strength of will (and nerves as well imo) to stay focused from start to finish.
I see him because of all this as the clear favorite for this final.
I agree. Listening to Thiem as he hit almost every shot — he was hitting the ball as hard as he could. That kind of offensive tennis is very flawed, unsustainable, etc..
Like I said, I didn’t even watch the 3rd set.
I really had no favourite coming in to the semi-finals. I expected a clash of monumental proportions in the Nadal vs. Thiem match because I really thought Thiem could stand against Nadal seeing how he didn’t drop a set, did everything vs Novak and got to Nadal in Rome. Never bet against a fit and hungry Rafa on clay, ever!
Given your affection for Nadal (and your heavenly transmissions), you should have raged from the top of the steps: “Hope you enjoyed the ride, Dominic! Now, away with this boy!”