Nadal vs Thiem for FO 2019

thiem-rafa-preview

We will discuss the tournament after tomorrow’s final, including the two SFs, some other observations, etc.

Two things seem quite apparent right now.

  1. This year’s French Open has solidified my own impression of this tournament, built through a 40+ year appreciation of the sport. I have heard this sentiment echoed throughout much of the tennis culture’s comments on the way this year’s tournament has unfolded, which seems to underscore a view that this is an inferior major with an inferior quality of tennis.
  2. Nadal and Thiem very well represent the best clay court tennis.

Two seemingly discordant things can be true.

Djokovic likely could have won today, in a truly odd semi-final match full of brilliant ball striking and surging comebacks, and nervy points alongside strange point strategy.

I have much more to say about the role Djokovic plays in this year’s tournament.

But Thiem did, in fact, outlast the Serb. I actually thought the Austrian had broken his will in the third set, but the strange weather-related conditions kept everyone guessing, even the players. Djokovic survived. Almost. The Austrian is a true giant of the sport, perhaps awaiting his formal coronation with the capture of his first major.

Nadal is the clear favorite. No one would be surprised by another straight-set thrashing of last year’s runner-up. We have come to expect these things, especially with Rafa and clay . . . and Roland Garros.

So let us acknowledge that this very poor outcome could very well come to pass; that fans of tennis want such an outcome or will celebrate such an outcome is almost offensive, yet we have to concede the Spaniard’s dominance is staggering, even if this means that this major, already 2nd tier in my own estimation, has further been practically ruined in the Nadal era. Again, I have to accept and value to some extent his dominance while at the same time consider this normality a kind of abnormality.

I will try to explain this a bit more later, but Rafa is in a no-win situation tomorrow.

Put another way, he has to win this title, his 12th. Yet this will mean almost nothing, beyond the slam count. We already know he is a god of clay.

A loss would have more meaning.

I want to say Rafa has a lot of pressure tomorrow. But we’ve seen him deal so often with this kind of Roland Garros pressure.

I also want to say that Thiem knows how to beat Rafa, though RG (Chatrier and Bo5) is an entirely different animal. Still, he’s beaten Nadal four times on clay.

He can beat Nadal.

I will stick with Thiem’s confidence, which I saw in his press conference after his SF win over Novak. The winds of Roland Garros this year, for me, are, as I said, some winds of change.

In the end, I beliem in Thiem.

I have to believe in something. At this point. In such a desolate place.

6 thoughts on “Nadal vs Thiem for FO 2019

  1. Luis

    It must be so hard to live writing in a tennis blog being a Nadal hater trying to uselessly diminish his incredible achievements and his never to be beaten record at Roland Garros on clay which is the most technically, mentally and physically demanding surface of all tennis surfaces. VAMOS 12AFA!

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  2. Elmar

    This is a high quality blog. Congrats for the author. Keep up the good job. You love tennis more than a particular player and this is visible from the article you write. Thiem is one of the best things in tennis and deserves quality fans.

    This tournament becomes a joke. Organizers do their best to help Nadal extend his reign in Paris
    for years. He is no longer unbeatable the last years and his loses to clay tournaments before Rolland Garros not only to Jokovic proved this multiple times. It is not the best of 5 set format that makes Nadal impossible to beat, nor his game and stamina which have visibly declined. Scheduling this year made it so Nadal matches always finish not only 1st before his next opponent but a whole day earlier! Add to this the luck of weather conditions which postponed games of his next opponents and made them fatigued when meeting Nadal. Add to this the easy draws he gets and you have a still highly capable clay champion training with pushovers till the at least semifinal or the final itself and no wonder finals with him are not competitive. Here is just last few years RG break-ups:

    French Open 2015 Nadal ousted on quarterfinal

    At the French Open 2015, Nadal advanced past Q Halys, N Almagro, A Kuznetsov, J Sock,
    At the French Open 2015, Jokovic advanced past G Müller and R Gasquet before beating Nadal at the quaterfinal. The tough semifinal vs Murray was played in 2 separate days and as a result Djokovic ran out of gas after the 1st set vs Wawrinka and lost the final.

    French Open 2016 Djokovic vs Andy Murray

    At the French Open 2016, Nadal advanced past S Groth, F Bagnis and withdrew prior to his third-round match M Granollers. Next match he was supposed to play fresh D. Thiem!!! Was it a wrist injury or avoiding a stain on his RG record? Remember how Nadal pull out of last year match vs fresh Del Potro after the drama vs Thiem?

    French Open 2017 Wawrinka vs Nadal

    At the French Open 2017, Wawrinka advanced past A Dolgopolov, Fognini,Monfils, Marin Čilić, Andy Murray. He then lost due to extreme fatigue in straight sets in the final to Rafael Nadal
    At the French Open 2017, Nadal advanced past B. Paire, R. Haase, N Basilashvili, R Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreño Busta and came out fresh as a daisy for the final.

    French Open 2018 Thiem vs Nadal

    Thiem:
    At the French Open 2018, Thiem advanced past Stefanos Tsitsipas, Kei Nishikori, Alexander Zverev, Marco Cecchinato. All of them fresh, on top of their game. He then lost due to extreme fatigue in straight sets in the final to Rafael Nadal

    Nadal :
    At the French Open 2018, before the final he needed to face just 1 quality player before he final – which was the the both injured and fatigued Juan Martín del Potro on the semifinal. So he came out fresh as a daisy for the final.

    It is clear that Thiem is better claycorter then Djokovic but if organizers and Nadal pay attention to his ATP ranking so he does not have to meet him before final his reign in Paris can be extended further. Sooner or later the help from organizers and pure luck with weather will end. As soon as he meets fresh Djokovic, Thiem, Delpotro, Zverev, Fognini and others who have proven to be able to beat him when fresh he will either loose or pull out from knee/wrist injury. Nadal is still good enough to reach RG finals without help and win it but tennis mafia has other agenda.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Elmar.
      There’s suspicion, but you and I know that in the end we (the public) pretty much just see the results, the titles. He beats who they put in front of him and, to be fair, he owns this tournament.

      It’s impressive for him and embarrassing for the sport at the same time.

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    2. Luis

      Another Nadal hater. How many Slam titles has Nadal lost just because the infortune had to play very fresh rivals in semifinals and quarters and was not fresh in the final? I can remember quite a few as in the Australian Open, playing Dimitrov in the semifinal losing a fith set to Federer in the final just because he could not keep going. Or losing to Wawrinka in the final because he got injured. Or last year vs Djokovic in Wimblendon, a match he would have defeated Djokovic and play the final if the organisers did not kept unnecesarely closed the roof to play indoors unfairly favoring Djokovic, who won the 2018 tilte that Nadal could have won if played without roof as it was due given Wimblendon is an outdoor tournament, etc., etc, etc. Or how many easy draws have either Federer or Djokovic enjoyed during their Grand Slam careers. Nadal has beaten Federer and Thiem to win his 12th Roland Garros. Djokovic won an italian singer, weak Zverev and unknowns. You are just a cry baby hater of Nadal. Vamos 12afa!

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      1. Luis,
        you will gain no traction here.
        I will respond to “12afa” later — if you can parse the discussion, you might see that here we deal with a more objective impression.

        Your hero won — good for you. But your glee is childish, predictable.

        He won Roland Garros. This is the least surprising event of the year.

        None the less, I am genuinely happy for you and your clan.
        Well done.

        Liked by 1 person

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