By Ros Satar, in Paris

  • We crunch the numbers between Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem as they bid to win the Roland Garros Men’s singles title
PARIS, FRANCE – Will the King of Clay Rafael Nadal triumph again, or is there a new challenger to his throne in Dominic Thiem? We take a look at their stats through this year’s French Open.

 

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Head to Head

Rafael Nadal Dominic Thiem
6 3

Obviously on paper this looks like the more favourable head to head for Rafael Nadal, and interestingly enough all their encounters in this young rivalry have been on clay. Most people would not give Dominic Thiem a chance – he has been soundly beaten the two times they faced each other at Roland Garros before in straight sets (2014, 2017) but he beat Nadal in Madrid earlier this year, and has beaten him in Rome where the conditions more closely match those at Roland Garros.

Still, Thiem will have to be ready to battle out there for five sets, because that is what it will take.

Advantage: Nadal

 

Titles History

  Nadal Thiem
Titles (2018) 76 (3) 10 (2)
Slams 16 0

Nadal’s record speaks for itself. But for Thiem this is a big moment – for almost all of this tournament most of the focus was on whether the No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev would even make it past the first round for the first time in a major, but it should be remembered that Thiem has been to the semi-finals of a Slam twice (2016, 2017) here, so this is the next logical step.

He will hope to become the first plater to win the title on his Grand Slam final debut for the first time since Marin Cilic at the 20145 US Open.

Advantage: Nadal

 

Year to Date/Career W/L Record

  Nadal Thiem
All surfaces W/L 29/2 / 41902-187 35-8 / 206-117
Clay-court 25-1 / 108-42 26-5 / 109-35

This season both have been probably two of the most consistent on the clay, with that extra tournament in Lyon giving Thiem’s numbers just a little of a boost, but with only one loss to his name so far, Nadal has once again dominated the terre battue.

Advantage: Nadal

 

Match Stats 2018

  Nadal Thiem
Tie-Breaks 5-1 10-6
Deciding sets 2-1 10-3

 

Tie-breaks

Nadal has been by far the most successful if taken to a tie-break this year.

Deciding Sets

Nadal has looked the most efficient at avoiding tie-breaks, but Thiem has a decent record of turning things around if taken the distance.

Advantage: Nadal

 

Tournament

Serve/Return

There is actually little to separate them on their overall serve stats throughout the tournament, with perhaps Nadal being a little sharper in his return game.

Advantage: Deuce

 

What they had to say

Nadal, as ever, refuses to entertain the thought that he is ever the favourite – even though the stats of course put him ahead in almost category.

Nadal said: “My feeling is on Sunday I have a very difficult match against a player that is playing great. I know I have to play my best if I want to have chances.

”Good thing is I played a lot of good matches this clay court season. So Sunday is the day to give my best, is the day to increase even a little bit more the level. I hope to be ready to do it. That’s the goal.

“You know when you start the clay court season that Dominic, he’s one of these players that have the chance to win every tournament that he’s playing, and maybe even more here in Roland Garros because he’s strong physically. He has the power.”

Thiem is trying to stay relaxed and to try and feel no pressure – and in fairness he is not the one looking to break an unassailable record.

He said: [Nadal is] a big favourite against everybody. Still, I know how to play against him. I have a plan. If it’s going to be him on Sunday, I will try everything that my plan also going to work out a little bit here and not only in Madrid or in Rome.

“For sure I can take some things off [his previous wins]. If I want to beat him, I have to play that way like I did in Rome and in Madrid. But I’m also aware that here it’s tougher. He likes the conditions more here than in Madrid, for sure. Best of five is also different story. I think also a good thing is that I faced him already twice here.

“Of course there is pressure especially in Grand Slam finals, because I went a very long way now and I don’t want to lose the finals; otherwise, it’s not a very nice feeling. But on the other hand, it’s so tough to go all the way in such a tournament.”

“I think if I’m facing Rafa, I’m not the one who has the pressure (smiling).”

 

READ MORE | Roland Garros 2018 | The King of clay meets the prince and heir apparent as Nadal & Thiem fight for the title

Roland Garros 2018 | The King of clay meets the prince and heir apparent as Nadal & Thiem fight for the title

 

POLL: Who will win the Men’s singles title at Roland Garros?

 

The Roland Garros men’s singles final will be played on Sunday at 3pm (2pm BST).

 

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