Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Nadal, Thiem ready for tough final showdown


Can you see Thiem denying Nadal a record-extending 11th title at Roland Garros? As the sound of Nadal's ball-striking groans echoing through Court Philippe Chatrier has become one of the melodic fixtures of Paris, he has won the French Open more than anybody has won anything among the four coveted majors, with the exception of Margaret Court's 11 Australian Open titles, four won during the Open Era that began in 1968.

Nadal, playing in his 24th Grand Slam final overall, realised the resilient Thiem would prove a tough challenge after the pair stood toe-to-toe, exchanging a couple of breaks of serve in a stirring opening in stiflingly humid conditions in Paris, before the 24-year-old from Austria held serve in a marathon sixth game.

The 32-year-old has enjoyed a superb 18 months and has won three of the last five Grand Slams available to him.

Either Federer or Nadal has captured each of the last six Grand Slam championships.

He hit a forehand long for 0-30 and then hit another forehand into the net to gift Nadal three set points. The Austrian leaking point after point, its all Nadal at the moment, leads 2-0. Key in that regard was his backhand, which consistently flustered Thiem, who didn't have the same bag of tricks at his disposal. He converted the second to make the score 2-1.

The weather could yet play it's part in today's final.

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But against Thiem, there was nothing wrong with Nadal's start.

Nadal's Barcelona Open semifinal win over David Goffin was his 400th tour-level clay-court match win, making him the fourth man in the Open Era to win 400 matches on clay, after Vilas (659), Manuel Orantes (502) and Muster (422).

They knocked out the top-seeded pair of Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic in the quarterfinals.

Thiem was considered the stiffest test for Nadal at the French Open and understandably so.

The women's doubles final is also Sunday.

The forecast says there is a chance of rain.

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