Opposed to Nadal, Thiem "facing one of the greatest challenges in history"


"I am tackling one of the biggest challenges in the history of sport …" Dominic Thiem, 25, has taken the enormity of what awaits him this Sunday against Rafael Nadal, from 15 hours , on the Central of Roland-Garros. On Saturday, the Austrian conquered Everest with the world No. 1, Novak Djokovic, at the end of an intense and disjointed showdown over two days (6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5- 7, 7-5).

Less than twenty-four hours later, Nicolas Massu's pupil will start the vertiginous climb of a still unexplored summit. Eleven times winner on Paris clay, the Spaniard has never bitten the dust in the final. Last year, Thiem did not weigh very heavily at Sunday Mass. Swept in three sets (6-4, 6-3, 6-2).

"But he's no longer the same," said former Davis Cup captain Arnaud Clement. He has more experience, more confidence and he uses a little better everything he did. He has more variety in his service. He had to touch, try amortized, sliced ​​backhands that allow him to put himself in a better position to place his overpowering attack game. "

2e world on earth …

"Thieminator", although he does not like the nickname, is clearly the second best player in the world on earth. And he learned to demystify the Majorcan God on the surface in the format of the two winning sets. Thiem has already beaten Nadal four times on ocher, the last in Barcelona in April.

"It's going to be a partidazo (note: a huge match), smiles Massu, who leads the world No. 4 since the spring. To lead 5-3, 40-15 in the last set against Djokovic, to miss his two match balls and to revive, it's not easy. Dominic has the talent, the physique and the mind. A mixture of youth and experience. "

In spite of his enthusiasm and the eight years he gives to his glorious elder, Kiki Mladenovic's companion will not tackle the ultimate battle on a level playing field. Simple (or complex) matter of meteorological arithmetic. To raise the Musketeers Cup, Thiem will have had to play four days in a row. Nadal, he took his Thursday and Saturday off …

"But I do not consider it a problem, blows the pretender to the succession of the throne. I did not have long matches before (Editor's note: he played 15:25 in total, two hours more than the titleholder). I am full of adrenaline and I will not be tired. And then, I'll have plenty of time to rest after the tournament. "

A double with Mladenovic?

If the legs respond present, the head will have to follow. "He is an outstanding athlete, able to link physical performance," said former player Fabrice Santoro. Afterwards, it's more in the management of emotions. He must not have been drained by his performance against Djokovic. And Rafa is stronger … "

Finalist in Paris in 1988, Henri Leconte sees the student tickling the master. "He may have less freshness but he is happy and with gas, explains the former world No. 5. You just do not have to be euphoric. Last year, he was nervous. This is his second final, he knows he will have to hit hard, be in the field and take risks. "

With, perhaps, a little extra soul. From 11:30, Kiki Mladenovic and his girlfriend Babos play the doubles final against the Chinese Duan and Zheng. Nice perspective to bring two trophies home …


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