'Rafael Nadal scored impressive victory over Dominic Thiem,' McEnroe says
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 6321
Dominic Thiem was among Rafael Nadal's greatest rivals at Roland Garros between 2017 and 2019. The Austrian scored notable victories in Paris during those three seasons to set the clash against the king of clay. Rafa proved too strong in all three duels, toppling Dominic and extending his incredible Roland Garros streak.
Two rivals met in the 2019 final, and the Spaniard scored a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 win in three hours for his 12th Roland Garros title and 18th Major. Patrick McEnroe watched the match from the stands and was impressed with Nadal's performance in the opening five games.
In fact, Rafa took charge only in the middle of the set, pulling a break back and rattling off four straight games to win the opener 6-3 and gain a boost. Thiem bounced back in set number two and matched the rival's pace. He served well and grabbed a break at 6-5 to level the overall score and gather confidence.
Instead of building on that, the Austrian faded from the court in sets three and four, allowing the Spaniard to lift his 12th title in Paris.
Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem met in the 2019 Roland Garros final.
At 33, Nadal became the third-oldest champion in Paris in the Open era after Andres Gimeno (1972) and Ken Rosewall (1968).
Rafa grabbed 45% of the return points, breaking Dominic seven times from 13 chances and suffering only two breaks. He mounted the pressure on the younger opponent and broke his resistance after the second set. The Spaniard had the upper hand with 38 winners and 31 unforced errors.
He dominated the rallies and halted Thiem on 31 winners and 38 errors after a rock-solid performance that left Dominic with no answer after set number two. "I went to Roland Garros as a fan. Dominic Thiem played great that year, reaching the final and facing Rafael Nadal.
We were all thinking that Thiem could win a Major in Paris, and he ended up winning the US Open a year later. Dominic beat Novak Djokovic en route to the title clash at Roland Garros, and he made the worst start against Rafa, barely winning points in the opening games.
Thiem was lucky to take anything away from Nadal in the first five games; that's how good Rafa was," Patrick McEnroe said.