It is one of the great questions that every fan asks. How does it feel to face Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros? There have been very few domains as overwhelming in the history of tennis as the one that the Balearic has been practicing for five years in the Parisian Grand Slam. That balance of 93 victories and 2 defeats that today we assume almost as something normal, will provoke feelings of stupor for generations to come. Perhaps, to understand the greatness of Rafa in his fetish tournament, it would be convenient to speak with someone who has faced him four times on those tracks, as is Dominic Thiem.
We review the history of the Balearic in Paris, paying special attention to the moments when he was seen on the ropes.
His first duel dates from the 2014 edition, where Nadal imposed his authority against a Dominic who was still a great player project. Then they were measured in the semifinals of the tournament in 2017, with a comfortable victory for the Balearic Islands, and the great train crashes came in the finals of 2018 and 2019. In the latter, Thiem already arrived with the endorsement of having done great things and his attitude and conviction of being able to ring the bell were much greater. This was explained in an interesting conversation with Barbara Schett for Eurosport.
“In the final of 2019 it was the first time that I entered the game 100% aware that I was capable of defeating Rafa. In the other matches there were doubts in my mind, but at that moment I arrived with great confidence after defeating Djokovic in the semifinals My perception of the game against Rafa is that I gave it my all and played the two best sets of my entire life on clay. I felt impressive, but honestly, I think Rafa had a great day. I have never asked him, if he felt as well as it seemed under his game, but it showed why he has 12 titles in this event, “said the Austrian.
Questioned about the difficulty at the mental level It involves seeing faces with a man almost impossible to beat in this tournament, Thiem offers an interesting reflection. “Everything is difficult. I go out on the court and I know that from the first minute I will have to fight for every ball and I am clear that it will take me beyond my limits, both physically and mentally. You face Rafa at Roland Garros, you have in his head whenever he has only lost twice, so you not only have to beat him, but also his legend, “he stressed. “I can assure you that the night before playing against him and the hours before the start of the game, they are not pleasant at all,” said a man who would like to play the final again. Australian Open 2020, who lost to Novak Djokovic.
“I wish I could do it. I was two sets to one up and I had a break ball. I perfectly remember a forehand passing shot, which wasn’t bad, but that Novak hunted. That point could change everything, I don’t know if I lost due to that point, but tennis is like that. Everything is so even that a single point is capable of changing everything. In the quarterfinals and semifinals, against Rafa and Sascha, those details favored me and here it couldn’t be. I hope I have more opportunities to redeem myself, “said a Dominic Thiem who pursues with tenacity to open his record of Grand Slams.