Rafael Nadal will clash with Dominic Thiem on Sunday for a chance to win another French Open title. At stake for both players will be 2.2 million euros in prize money as well as 2000 ATP ranking points. Nadal could become only the second player to win 17 grand slam titles on the men’s tour. Meanwhile, 24-year-old Thiem is hoping to become only the second Austrian in history to win a major title.
Here are five facts about today’s men’s final at the French Open.
1. Nadal leads their head-to-head
World No.1 Nadal has a 6-3 record against Thiem on the tour, but this doesn’t necessarily tell the full story. The Austrian is one of only three players to have defeated the Spaniard on the clay three or more times. The other two are Novak Djokovic (seven times) and Gaston Gaudio (three times). Furthermore, 2018 is the second consecutive year Thiem has been the only player to defeat Nadal on the dirt prior to Roland Garros.
All of their nine previous meetings have taken place on the clay with two of them occurring at Roland Garros (2014 and 2017). Nadal won both of those. All of their previous matches have ended in straight sets.
|Year||Name||Round||Surface||Winning Player||Losing Player||Score|
|2018||Madrid Masters||QF||Clay||Dominic Thiem||Rafael Nadal||7-5 6-3|
|2018||Monte Carlo Masters||QF||Clay||Rafael Nadal||Dominic Thiem||6-0 6-2|
|2017||FO – RG||SF||Clay||Rafael Nadal||Dominic Thiem||6-3 6-4 6-0|
|2017||Rome Masters||QF||Clay||Dominic Thiem||Rafael Nadal||6-4 6-3|
|2017||Madrid Masters||F||Clay||Rafael Nadal||Dominic Thiem||7-6(8) 6-4|
|2017||Barcelona||F||Clay||Rafael Nadal||Dominic Thiem||6-4 6-1|
|2016||Monte Carlo Masters||R16||Clay||Rafael Nadal||Dominic Thiem||7-5 6-3|
|2016||Buenos Aires||SF||Clay||Dominic Thiem||Rafael Nadal||6-4 4-6 7-6(4)|
|2014||FO – RG||R64||Clay||Rafael Nadal||Dominic Thiem||6-2 6-2 6-3|
2. Thiem is aiming to join an elite group
Already recording a win over second seed Alexander Zverev earlier in the tournament, Thiem is gunning for the double. Should he triumph in the final, he would become only the ninth man in the Open Era to defeat the top two seeds on route to a major title. The fourth at the French Open.
Since 2000, Stan Wawrinka has been the only player to achieve the double at the 2014 Australian Open and the 2015 French Open. Other players who have previously achieved the record are Manuel Orantes, Mark Edmondson, Mats Wilander, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Michael Stich, Sergi Bruguera.
3. Nadal is a win away from the Undecima
A win on Sunday would give Nadal a record 11th French Open title. Should he do so, he would become the second player and first man to ever win the same grand slam 11 times. The first was Margaret Court at the Australian Open. Only him and Roger Federer has reached the final of the same major 11 times on the men’s tour. Federer achieved his milestone at Wimbledon last year.
Nadal could also become the first player in history to win three tournaments 11 times in the Open Era. He has already achieved the Undecima at tournaments in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
Years Nadal has won the French Open – 2005-08, 2010-2014, 2017
4. Youth Vs experience
32-year-old Nadal has the chance to join Federer, Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall as the only men to have won three major titles after their 30th birthday. Last year he won both the French and US Open titles. Nadal is already one of seven players on the ATP Tour to have won multiple major titles after the age of 30.
At the other end of the spectrum, 24-year-old Thiem is bidding to be the youngest winner in Paris since Nadal back in 2010. A win would make him the youngest grand slam champion since Novak Djokovic at the 2012 Australian Open.
Grand slam match wins
Nadal – 236
Thiem – 43
French Open main draw wins
Nadal – 85
Thiem – 18
Nadal – $98,001,598
Thiem – $11,093,101
Note: numbers go up to the 2018 French Open final
5. The seedings milestone
It will be only the third time in the Open Era that a top seed (Nadal) has taken on the seventh seed (Thiem) in a major final. The only previous time it has occurred in Roland Garros was in 1992 when Jim Courier defeated Peter Korda.
The top seed has won the French Open 14 times in the Open Era. On the other hand only once has a seventh seed been victorious. That was Jan Kodes back in 1970.
Dominic Thiem Ousts Rafael Nadal For Maiden Australian Open Semi-Final
Dominic Thiem edged out world number one Rafael Nadal in four sets to reach his first Australian Open semi-final.
Dominic Thiem edged out Rafael Nadal 7-6(3) 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(6) to reach the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time.
In a stunning performance, Thiem eventually held his nerve to win all three tiebreaks in the match and secure a place in the last four.
The result means Nadal will lose his world number one if Novak Djokovic can win an eighth Australian Open title in Melbourne.
As for the Austrian, he will meet Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals on Friday.
In a rematch of the Roland Garros final, it was Thiem who had the more aggressive start to the match as he was red-lining the ball across the court and created break point opportunities.
Nadal’s clutch serving remained crucial though to survive the Austrian’s early surge. This was important as Nadal would soon show why he has won 20 grand slam titles as he played his best tennis when it mattered.
A good mix of pace and variety troubled Thiem as the Spaniard earned the first break of the match for a 5-3 lead in the opening set.
Despite the early setback, the Austrian continued to raise his level especially on the backhand side, producing a lot of winners. A forehand return winner sealed the break back immediately on his third opportunity.
Both men would continue to cancel each other out with insane cross-court angles as the opening set went to a tiebreak.
Dominating from the baseline, the 5th seed took control and wrapped up the opening set 7-6(3) in 68 gruelling minutes.
In the second set, Nadal continued to be the aggressor especially on the forehand as he realised how crucial the set was going to be.
An increased amount in unforced errors for Thiem proved costly as the world number one opened up a 4-2 lead in the second set.
But once again, Thiem struck back as a loose and nervy game from the Spaniard saw the Austrian level up at 4-4 in a tense point in the match.
Another tiebreak loomed as Thiem failed to take his chances after Nadal’s uncharacteristic unforced errors. However he didn’t make the same mistakes in the tiebreak as a net cord-forehand combination secured three consecutive points and a two set lead.
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) January 29, 2020
A two set advantage was a comfortable lead for Thiem but it doesn’t guarantee victory especially against one of the best competitors tennis has ever seen.
A cleaner set was produced from Nadal as he dug in deep to hold his service games and create some opportunities to break especially off the forehand.
Eventually those opportunities came as a tentative Thiem service game saw Nadal create two set points. A netted baseline shot from the world number 5 saw the Spaniard grab the third set as he roared in delight to the packed Rod Laver Arena crowd.
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) January 29, 2020
The momentum was now firmly with Nadal, who had better intensity as the forehand was firing against Thiem’s defensive skills.
However the Austrian’s mental strength has improved and he managed to overcome the Nadal storm by saving two break points as well as gaining the immediate break advantage.
There was trouble for the world number one now as Thiem’s serve was improving as he continued to outsmart and outpower the Spaniard.
Threats of a double break were quickly snuffed out by the 2009 champion and that would soon cost Thiem as he couldn’t serve out the match. The world number one took advantage of the Austrian’s nerves to break for 5-5.
Both men held their nerve afterwards to force a fourth set tiebreak, the third of the day. Yet again it would be Thiem who would win the tie-break as he booked his place in a maiden Australian Open semi-final.
It was a stunning performance which now sees him meet good friend Alexander Zverev for a place in the final. As for Nadal his search for a second Australian Open title continues and could still lose his world number one ranking should Novak Djokovic win his eighth title in Melbourne.
Australian Open Day 10 Preview: The Quarter-Finals Conclude
Wednesday is highlighted by a rematch of the French Open final from the last two years.
By Matthew Marolf
Rafael Nadal is one win away from securing his world No.1 ranking, though I’m sure he’s much more concerned with being three wins away from winning his record-tying 20th Major title. But standing in his way today is an opponent who has beaten him many times before. The other men’s quarter-final features the 2014 champion and a Next Gen standout who has excelled on the ATP tour, but is yet to make a deep run at a Major. On the women’s side, we have a pair of two-time Major champions against two women looking to reach their first Slam semi-final.
Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Dominic Thiem (5)
This is a marquee quarterfinal between two top five seeds. Nadal leads their head-to-head 9-4, with all but one of those matches taking place on clay. Their only hard court meeting was certainly a memorable one. In the 2018 US Open quarterfinals, they played for almost five hours, and past 2:00am, in a match decided by a fifth-set tiebreak. Thiem should take a lot of positives from that encounter despite the loss, and he’s only improved his hard court game since that time.
Dominic has won four hard court titles in the past 16 months, including the Masters 1000 event at Indian Wells. And just two months ago, he reached the championship match at the ATP Finals, with wins over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. This is his first time advancing to the quarters in Australia, but this run is not surprising based on his recent hard court resume. The slower courts in Melbourne this year work to Dominic’s favour, though Rafa will like that temperatures are forecast to rise over the next few days. But with this being a night match, it’ll get rather cool as this match goes on. Nadal has looked good through four rounds here, and passed a stern test supplied by Nick Kyrgios two days ago. However, I think this may be Thiem’s time to shine. He was oh-so-close to beating Nadal in their last hard court match, and he’s a much-improved player since hiring Nicolas Massu as his coach. In what will surely be a highly-competitive affair, I’m tipping Thiem to pull off the upset.
Sascha Zverev (7) vs. Stan Wawrinka (15)
Can this be true? Zverev, who has historically become entangled in long matches during the first week of Majors, has won four rounds here without dropping a set. It’s even more startling when you consider he went 0-3 at the ATP Cup to start the year, where he had terrible troubles with his serve. In his post-match interview on Monday, he spoke of how finding peace in his personal life has lead to good results on court. The 22-year-old has reached his third Slam quarterfinal, and his first off clay. He’ll certainly be the fresher player today, as Stan not only battled an illness last week, but has already played two five-setters.
That includes his comeback victory over Daniil Medvedev two days ago. And Zverev is 2-0 against Wawrinka, with both victories coming on hard courts. But this is a case where experience at this stage of a Major will be crucial, and Stan has plenty of that. This is his fifth quarter-final in Melbourne, and his 18th at all four Majors. Wawrinka has proven himself to be a big-match player, and excels in the best-of-five format. As improved as Zverev’s serve has been this fortnight, Wawrinka remains the bolder and more aggressive player, which is usually critical in matches like this. With that in mind, I like Stan’s chances to return to the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time in three years.
Simona Halep (4) vs. Anett Kontaveit (30)
The 24-year-old Kontaveit has been a rising WTA star for a few years now, but she appears ready for her big breakthrough. This run has literally come out of nowhere, as an illness forced her to withdraw from the US Open and miss the rest of the 2019 season. Her coach, Nigel Sears, told the media that she was hospitalized for a week and had to undergo surgery. This resulted in a substantial weight loss, and a lack of activity for three or four months. But here she is into her first Major quarter-final, thanks to some impressive play. She dropped just one game to the sixth seed, Belinda Bencic, and came back from a set down to claim a tight match over a talented teenager, Iga Swiatek.
But today Kontaveit runs into an in-form Halep, who has reunited with Darren Cahill and is yet to drop a set at this event. These two players have similar, all-around games, though Halep is a bit more consistent, and a bit more skilled defensively. And Simona is 2-0 against Anett, having comfortably won the four sets they’ve played. Halep should be favoured to reach her second semi-final in Melbourne.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (30) vs. Garbine Muguruza
Speaking of Roland Garros and Wimbledon champions in good form, Garbine Muguruza is back. She seems to be rejuvenated with Conchita Martinez back as her coach. When her former coach, Sam Sumyk, missed Wimbledon a few years ago to undergo a medical procedure, Conchita filled in, and coached Muguruza to the title. Garbine split with Sumyk during the offseason, and is playing her best tennis in a few years with Martinez as a full-time coach.
But guess who Sumyk coaches now? That would be Pavlyuchenkova. This union has also paid immediate dividends, though the 28-year-old Russian has been playing great tennis since the fall. Pavlyuchenkova outplayed a game Angelique Kerber on Monday, extending her record in the fourth round of Majors to 6-1. The problem is she’s 0-5 in Slam quarter-finals. And she’s 1-4 against Muguruza, with the only win coming via a Garbine retirement. Muguruza just has a bit more game than Pavlyuchenkova, and she’s been on fire since overcoming an illness last week. Garbine took out two top 10 seeds in the last two rounds, via scores of 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, and 6-3. While Sumyk will certainly have some sage advance for how to play against Muguruza, I don’t see it being enough considering Garbine’s current level.
(VIDEO) Roger Federer Pulls Off Houdini Act To Set 50th Djokovic Meeting
Ubitennis is joined by Rene Stauffer to discuss Roger Federer’s miraculous win over Tennys Sandgren at the Australian Open.
It was another dramatic day at the Australian Open as Roger Federer pulled off a miraculous comeback to edge out Tennys Sandgren 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6(8) 6-3 to reach the Australian Open semi-finals. The Swiss saved 7 match points as he survived the three and a half hour clash to set up a 50th meeting with Novak Djokovic. Below Ubaldo Scanagatta and Rene Stauffer discuss Federer’s miraculous win against Sandgren.
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