Thiem hails 'awesome' King of Clay after French Open defeat

Lawrence Cooper
June 11, 2018

Dominic Thiem is the only man who has gotten the better of him on clay in the last two years.

For the second year running Federer opted against playing at the French Open to spare his knees, but will be favorite to win Wimbledon next month and re-establish a four Grand Slam gap over Nadal on the list of all-time collectors of major titles. The Spaniard got early breaks in the second and third set, to keep a battling, but baffled, Thiem at bay.

Nadal -5.5 games is available on the Exchange at [1.68] and given the fact that Nadal has tended to dominate Thiem on non-quick clay, this should be a very likely outcome if Nadal wins the final.

Spain and Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has led the social media acclaim for tennis star Rafael Nadal, after he won a record-extending 11th title at the French Open in Paris. His only two defeats on Parisian Clay came to Robin Soderling of Sweden in 2009 in the round of 16 and next in 2015 against Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final. A massive part of Nadal's legend on clay is that he makes players, however good, however aggressive, play on his terms.

In winning another French Open title, Nadal dropped one set the entire tournament. He had won four French Open titles, along with the other Masters tournaments.

Well, Nadal has answered that question now without too much trouble.

Grass hasn't tended to favour Nadal in recent years, and the return of a fit-again Roger Federer means he'll likely relinquish favourite status in England. After Nadal won the first, there was an air of inevitability.

Nadal's welling eyes during the trophy ceremony provided a moment of vulnerability after a match that had very few of them, apart from a weird interlude in the third set when Nadal abruptly stopped mid-service game with a disconcerted expression and left the baseline to request medical attention for a cramping left hand. One more backhand error from Thiem would see Nadal raise his hands in triumph.

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Thiem has beaten Nadal twice recently, so an upset was not out of the question.

Thus, the task ahead of 24-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem-competing in his first-ever Grand Slam final-seemed impossible.

This was the Austrian's first shot at a Grand Slam and his opponent's vast experience ultimately paid off despite his visible toil and hard work.

In a 10-minute second game of the second set, Thiem suffered more trauma.

Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray - the so-called Big Four - have dominated the men's game to such a degree that Thiem is only the second player now younger than 28 to have reached a major singles final.

He now has three grand slam titles since turning 30. Thiem was not easily cowed down by the Nadal forehand, nor the Popeye-bicep it finished off on.

Certainly, Nadal played a role.

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