Two weeks after the French Open got underway at Roland Garros we are left with one last singles match, which as with 12 months ago sees Dominic Thiem taking on Rafael Nadal for the second Grand Slam title of the year.
Nadal won in straight sets in the final last year, but Thiem has another 12 months of experience under his belt and knows what it is like to compete in a final of this magnitude which could be significant.
If Dominic Thiem is to gain his revenge on Rafael Nadal the first thing he needs to do is forget that he hasn’t had the luxury of a full day of rest that his opponent has. He had to return to see off Novak Djokovic on Saturday and he did that nicely. If he can repeat the tennis he played in that match he would appear to have every chance here but he will have to be that good again you fancy.
Thiem knows he can beat Nadal on clay. He has done that four times, including in their last meeting in Barcelona earlier this season but beating him over the best of three is one thing, over five is something else entirely. Given that fatigue is likely to catch up with him at some point, you would suggest that the Austrian has to start this final well if he is to eventually come out on top in it.
The defending champion has faced some tough opponents on paper at Roland Garros this year but none of them have put him under any pressure whatsoever. David Goffin caught him slacking in the last 16 and won a set from Nadal, the only one he has dropped in the tournament, but then Kei Nishikori could scarcely move against him and Roger Federer was not just fighting Nadal but also the conditions as well.
It isn’t always a good thing not to be tested on the way to a major final. Of course, Nadal will be much the fresher of the two. He would have been anyway without Thiem playing on Saturday, but in the heat of battle Nadal will not truly know what shape his game is in during this tournament. Nadal will know his opponent will be jaded and we can expect him to look to exploit that throughout this final.
These two have met on 12 previous occasions and it is currently 8-4 to Rafael Nadal. Incredibly all but one of their meetings have been on clay so it is 7-4 to the Spaniard on the dirt. Thiem did win their last match in Barcelona earlier in the year but it is Nadal who has won their three meetings here and all in straight sets. Indeed only once in their 11 clay court meetings have both men won a set in the same contest. History weighs with Nadal here but he isn’t as dominant against the Austrian as he is many others on the tour.
Only three of the 26 sets these two have played on clay have gone beyond 10 games so I have a feeling that the game line is a little on the high side at 36.5 even were Thiem to win a set. We could get a situation in this match where if Nadal gets an early break in a serve he starts and consolidates it that Thiem might save some energy and burn a set off so I’m wanting to get on the under here.
There is a strong belief that this will be a close final and while I hope it is for the spectacle I can’t ignore that statistic that only once in 11 meetings on clay have both won a set. You get the feeling the first set is huge here and if Nadal wins it he’ll run away with the match. Even if he doesn’t the longer the match goes the more dominant he may well get against a tiring opponent so I’ll back this final to stay under the 36.5 game range.
WON – Back Under 36.5 games for a 4/10 stake at 1.85 with Betway