Rafael Nadal v Dominic Thiem For The French Open Title, Who’s The Pick?
by Sean Randall | June 9th, 2018, 6:31 pm

So after two months and two weeks of clay court tennis, the last two standing for the biggest prize are probably the two guys we thought we’d see here in this spot, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem.

I had Alexander Zverev at the start, but the German was once again left shaking his head after another disappointing Grand Slam performance. But Thiem in the final is no slouch.

The Austrian has played tough all tournament and he comes into his very first Grand Slam final full of confidence. After all, he’s beaten Rafa twice in the past two years most recently last month in Madrid. And he’s on a nice 10-match win streak. So he’s got to be feeling about as good as he can.

Meanwhile, Rafa’s also in good form. He just demolished Juan Martin Del Potro and other than a sketchy first 90 minutes against Diego Schwartzman, all is well in Rafa’s house, which just so happens to be Court Philippe Chatrier.

Nadal and Thiem are meeting for a 10th time and all 10 will have been on clay. Rafa is up 6-3 but as I mentioned Thiem did beat him in their last meeting. A fresh-in-Rafa’s-mind meeting. Uh oh!

So, breaking this match down…

If Rafa serves well, he wins. If Rafa doesn’t serve well, he probably still wins.

Thiem’s best chance is to hope Rafa has an off day or gets injured (remember when Stan made his first Slam final and had to play Rafa who injured his back in warm-up? Thiem needs that!). Unlike a Del Potro, Thiem can’t really hit Rafa off the court. He plays too deep and he doesn’t have that 6-foot-6 Delpo-power. But the Austrian still can slug the ball, however when he hits from a position well behind the baseline against a top player, it doesn’t work as well.

That said, I think Theim will give Rafa some problems from the ground and get Rafa moving with those angles he can hit. But he has to step into the court!

In the end, though, I just don’t think Thiem’s game and his serve will hold up under the constant pressure and assault from Rafa. Also, this being his first final and having to do the unthinkable – beating Nadal in a French final – is asking too much. If it were a quarterfinal or a best-of-3, maybe. But in a final, in a best-of-5 and on clay? Nope. Not this year, but maybe next year? Yes!

Thiem will be fit though and I think he’ll do far better than he did a year ago when Nadal blasted him off the court 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.

One more thing that could help Thiem are the conditions. Hot and sunny gives Rafa the edge. If it’s wet and heavy, maybe that helps Dominic out a little. And there is rain in the forecast.

I know we’ve heard about Rafa being better than ever, but I just don’t buy that. He’s great and still the best on clay, but the competition is nowhere near what it was 4-5 years ago, sorry. And Rafa sliced through some of those fields like a hot knife through I can’t believe it’s not butter.

In saying that, he is vulnerable and I think he can be defeated because I did see him miss and odd shot here and there – like we saw against Schwartzman and even Bolelli and Marterer got him on his heels a bit. So if they can do it, why not Thiem?

I dunno, maybe Dominic embraces the challenge and the moment of playing in a first Grand Slam final, and he shocks the world? But to do that, I still think he’ll need some help from Rafa. But I just don’t think after Rafa just lost to him in Spain, he lets his guard down again.
The Pick: Nadal in 4

NBC will have the coverage starting at 9am ET. Rain is in the forecast so let’s see how that impacts things. If it does rain a bit, I think we might see five sets!

Either way, I think we’ll get a good match, much like we did today with Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens – how can you not feel happy for Simona after coming from a set and a break down to win her first Slam. Great stuff!

One top seed/world No. 1 won, will the other follow suit?

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5 Comments for Rafael Nadal v Dominic Thiem For The French Open Title, Who’s The Pick?

Sheila Says:

I’m rooting for Thiem but Nadal will win😢. He’s just too good, especially on clay

Daniel Says:


Weather looking awful for Paris afternoon, 3 pm till 9 pm (possible window of play). Hoe they are able to play something tomorrow, but by the looks of it with 12 hours to go and Monday forecast which is even worse, we may not get any play tomorrow.

chofer Says:

My mind says Nadal. There’s 1000 odds against Thiem. But somehow I think Rafa will have to work overload to get “sting” on his top spin to tame quickly the austrian under heavy heavy conditions.

I think he’s a moody player deep down. Very sensitive to what conditions sourrounds him not unlike Federer or Djokovic who are more prone to outburst, but the fact is that he hides it on his face better but not on his shots. He tends to go too short or too long, especially with his FH. The serve will be key.

The good news is that he can go to Thiem liability: his one handed BH. I know some people are in love with it but I saw it live, under similar conditions forecasted for tomorrow, and it can misfire badly. A lefty going to your “weakness”. Does it sound familiar?

The bad news is that that match I saw was won by Thiem, because Rafa’stop spin won’t generate enough revolutions on the ball to bother that BH like it would on a dry court.

In favour of Rafa I’d say he played like crap on that day and still managed a match point in the third set tie break.

If Rafa, on his mind, his prepared for some interruptions and some shots going not the way he likes, he’ll pull off the win.

Then again, when he was not prepared? My gut feeling says it’s gonna be a long day. Not necessarily for the duration of the match. Both players have two opponents tomorrow. The other and the weather.

As if one wasn’t enough.

My pick: Nadal either in three tigh sets, or four with one going easily for Thiem and the fastidious Rafa coping with drizzling over his head and slippery slides.

AndyMira Says:

Chofer!…Liked your analysis!!..And mostly agree with it!..Tho,i want to add a little…Rafa will not have 2 opponents..but 3!..Himself!For me[and Miss Jan too!i know!]…the biggest enemy is himself…There is no doubt he will come out very nervous bcoz of the weather..and if he can regroup quickly,he maybe win in 3 sets…If not,maybe 4..

In other notes,why organizers don’t change the schedule to 11 if they know there’s possibly a rain in the afternoon?11 is not bad..The matches in the 1st week start at 11am right?

Daniel Says:

Chance of rain decreased from 3 pm to 5 pm. Than increases a lot. If Nadal can finish Thiem in straights he can win tomorrow even with cloudy weather.

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