Thiem Topples Djokovic, Will Meet Nadal For French Open Title; Who’s The Pick?
by Sean Randall | June 8th, 2019, 5:34 pm

Goodbye to another Nole Slam, a second Career Slam and any hopes at a Calendar Slam. Novak Djokovic has to say goodbye to all that after it all went kaput on Court Chatrier today at the French Open.

In the resumption of their semifinal from yesterday, Dominic Thiem took down Djokovic in five tough sets 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 in 4 hours, 13 minutes.

The conditions today weren’t that much better than when they stopped Friday, but at anything is an improvement, and today the play was. Thiem ended up stronger in the end.

“It was an epic match. I mean, so many ups and downs and rain, going back to the locker, on court again,” Thiem said. “Somehow I had the feeling that I had the lead in the whole match, and then at the end it got so tough. And at the end, both of us could [have] won, and I luckily got the better in the end.”

Today’s portion of the match began with Thiem up 3-1 in the third, but Djokovic came out quicker, breaking back to level and seemingly getting control (that became a theme – whoever was in control, lost it!). And so Djokovic’s form was on the rise until he failed to force a breaker at 5-6. Thiem took the set.

The fourth set was an absolute breakfest (5 total) with Djokovic finally prevailing, forcing a decider.

Thiem, though, got an early edge but at 4-1 another rain delay hit.

After just over an hour off court, they returned and the fans saw Novak get back on serve only to lose it. Thiem tried to serve it out at 5-3, 40-15 but then he fell apart, losing a string of points as Djokovic somehow regained momentum for 5-all.

Thiem held easily for 6-5 then watched Novak unravel and this time on match point he converted.

“He played great, especially in the important moments. Made some really good slices and passing shots. He just managed to put one ball extra in the court at the end of the match,” Djokovic said. “[He hit] heavy forehands and down the wind from one side was much easier to play the entire match. Obviously when we came back the last time, there was a bit less wind, but still, it was a lot of advantage, so to say, playing from that one end.

“But congratulations to him. He’s playing great tennis. He showed why he’s one of the best players in the world, and I wish him best for the final.”

My takeaway from the match is Djokovic let the outside factors get to him. We saw yesterday the wind completely wreck his head. Today, the wind was there again but so too were time violations, a “not up” that the umpire missed, another mark the umpire overturned at a crucial moment when Djokovic stopped play, and then there’s the fact that as he’s chasing all this history, spending all these extra days on court, Nadal is sitting pretty back at the hotel… resting, relaxing.

All these issues seemed to snowball and watching, I just felt like they got him. He couldn’t let them go and they destroyed him inside.

Credit of course to Thiem who played brilliantly. He never showed any issue with the wind or the rain. He just kept his focus and stuck to his gameplan which in part was to bring the Serb into the net.

“It was not really the game plan what I had, but it’s so tough to volley or to play well at the net with all that wind,” Thiem said. “If you put a good spin on it, it’s so tough to volley this one. And especially on the one side where we played against the wind, I was trying to hit that short, flat slice, because the ball didn’t get up again. So I think that was a pretty good tactic.”

So without much rest, it’s…

Rafael Nadal v Dominic Thiem
Nadal leads Thiem 8-4 but the Austrian does have four wins over Rafa on clay. The problem is none of those wins came at the French Open nor in best-of-5 where Nadal is 3-0 against Dominic winning all nine sets.

And (and big AND), Dominic is coming off of three straight days of play including that big win today over No. 1 Djokovic.

Thiem is fit, one of the fittest on the planet, but I just don’t see how he’s going to be able to sustain that top level and take three sets off of Rafa.

That said, Rafa may not be as great as he once was and Thiem might be a better player than a year ago, but again, all that tennis the last three days just doesn’t bode well against a very fresh, very hungry Nadal.

“To play Rafa here on this court, is always the ultimate challenge, one of the toughest challenges sports in general give. I played a really good match against him in Barcelona. It was six weeks ago. So of course I’ll try to do similar [things] even though it’s way tougher to play him here,” Thiem said. “But I’ll try to keep all the positive emotions I’m having right now from this amazing match today, and go with a really positive mind into the match tomorrow, and then we’ll see.”

Another problem for Thiem is his court positioning. Because Chatrier is sooooo big, Thiem gives away even more room (I think that works against him). So for him to win tomorrow, he has to be up in the court and of course redline from the baseline.

And with the way Thiem is playing, I do think he might get a set (maybe the first set) before Rafa revs up and takes it.

Had Thiem played a usual schedule, I may have given him a chance. But with so little rest it’s hard to see.
The Pick: Nadal in 4

Could Thiem win? Yes. He’s got those big wins over Rafa on clay. He’s young enough, fit enough, has low expectations and pressure, and while the Djokovic win was a marathon, he didn’t play all four hours today, it was split up like a Rome event. But now he’s got to go best-of-5 against Rafa, not best-of-3.

So I think we all know what’s coming – even Thiem – it’s a question of how bad will it be for him.

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21 Comments for Thiem Topples Djokovic, Will Meet Nadal For French Open Title; Who’s The Pick?

Peka Says:

Thiem wins. He is better and more experienced than last year. He has lost his fair share of big matches and it is time for a big win… Rafa is slower and older than last year, Father Time is there for all of us…

Czarlazar Says:

Nole’s period of dominance starts in 2020 at Roland Garros, when ultra-windy conditions will be negated by the soon to be installed roof. Nole’s a great indoor player but sucks outdoors under inclement weather, and today proved it yet again.

Wog Boy Says:

Congratulations to Thiem whose game was more suited and more adaptable to the conditions.
Now go and try to take Rafa’s virginity in FO final, it’s going to be bloody hard, but you can do it.

Wog Boy Says:

Czarlazar, agree, do you remember USO match with Ferrer?

Andy Mira Says:

Insyaallah Rafa in 3….Vamos Rrrrafa!!

skeezer Says:

Lol respect and good post. If Thiem wins it will confirm a crack has been made in the concrete wall of the top 3, and not just him. Others seem to be coming. We have all been sayin that for awhile but the greatness of Nole, Fed & Rafa have successfully fought off Father time with a vengeance. The other younger guys need to produce consistent deep results and keep knocking on the door deep in Slams. This has been a win win tournament already for Thiem in that regard, he is the younger guys and…….at least he is knocking.

chofer Says:

Thien will make a match. But over five with a rested Rafa? You’ve gotta be kidding me.

Anyway, if Thiem somehow wins this in three, I’ll personally commit myself to hold his shorts down all year for all women here. And declare him Citizen of the city of Paris and ask for the tournament to withdraw from Slam status until they got a roof, artificial lights, hawkeye, a fifth set TB and polite Frenchmen on the streets.

Daniel Says:

Thiem needs the first set, period! He needs to try stay ahead as he did to Novak. More to let Nadal a bit uneasy. If Nadal wins 1st set he will relax and play lore loosely and get better and better.

Nadal was broken in all his matches bar 1 and the first time he was under real pressure, serving 4-5 down Goffin, he cracked and got broken and lost the set. That’s why fed getijg brokem 4-4 40-0 up was so frustrating. If Thiem can avoid an early break he can make it a match.

Also, he needs his return sharp. He was returning great today and even make a few return winners. Can’t give Nadal free points.

Van Persie Says:


yes, think the same. The weather has been the deciding factor in this game. Thiem adaptwd much better, hence he won.

Nole was unlucky at this FO, but hey, he got his share of luck last year at Wimbly, and I did not expect him to win the tournament. What a ride he haid since then 🙂

I am really confident he will have a strong rest of this season

Van Persie Says:

Rafa huge fave today, but maybe Thiem has the adrenalin so high today and he can make a last push

Michael Says:

For a change, whiff of fresh air and in the interest of this particular tournament, I hope Thiem wins by breaking open the GrandSlam barrier. Losing another GS final would be devastating for him. French open is becoming too predictable and boring: such is the overarching domination of Rafa who has made winning a habit.

Rafa Girl Says:

Vamos Rafa! Go get your 12th French Open Trophy. Remember who you are, the King of Clay! All the best🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

Van Persie Says:

FO organisers should have taken into consideration a delay of the final, from Sunday to Monday. The kid played quarters on Thursday, as the FO has no roof, and semis on Friday and Saturday, foe the same reason. Then we would really have a tennis match for the final, with both players rested and prepared.

j-kath Says:

Inshallah to A-M and Co. Think the Young Pretender will take one set – not time yet for him to beat Rafa on a clay Grand Slam. In fact I’m hanging on to all the big boys for another year.

What I particularly admire about Thiem, – he’s one of the few younger players who doesn’t depend wholly on youth, he follows the dedication to training that is part and parcel of the longevity and success of the older guys – hence he deserves his success.

Andy Mira Says:

Thank u so much for your good wishes JK!…Really really appreciated!

Bout Thiem….yeah!…I also agree with u JK!….I don’t think he’s ready to beat Rafa on PC yet…He’s one of the great clay specialist & if he were to meet with an opponent other than Rafa,then his chances is very high….but a healthy Rafa on PC… is something else…

I like him very much & want to wish him & Team Thiem all the best…

Madmax Says:

chofer Says:
Thien will make a match. But over five with a rested Rafa? You’ve gotta be kidding me.

Anyway, if Thiem somehow wins this in three, I’ll personally commit myself to hold his shorts down all year for all women here

Chofer, please don’t do that. Really. I will lose my appetite.

Thiem -v- Nadal.

Nadal in 4.

I think this is the first time I have agreed with Sean. Too much experience in those new knees for Thiem to win.

Hope it is a good match though for Oki and Willow.

Giles Says:

They are showing Rafa roughing up Roger on Eurosport right now.

skeezer Says:

It’s on YouTube, you can rewatch here as many times as you like;
Your welcome😂

Peka Says:

I am eating my own words :)

Correction… Thiem will NEVER beat Nadal, because when Nadal is unfit to play, he will retire, and that’s it…

Czarlazar Says:

Late response to WB: I do remember the Nole/Ferrer match at USO 2012 (semi-finals), which was postponed at 5-2 in the first set because of an approaching tornado. Even the spectators were sent home, for their own safety. Playing the semis last Friday at RG under ridiculous conditions doesn’t serve anyone, least of all the sport itself. Why would the French Open dummies go through a extensive renovation over the past year and not have at least one retractable roof ready for the hurricanes this year? Had they played the semis under the roof, as they should have, the final would’ve been Djokovic versus Federer — 1000 times more entertaining than the Nadal/Thiem snoozefest.

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