2019 French Open Tennis Finals Handicapping Preview: Dominic Thiem vs Rafael Nadal – Sunday, June 9, 2019
French Open Tennis
Where: Roland Garros Stadium, Paris, France
When: Sunday, June 9, 2019, 09:00 AM
Odds (Money Line): Dominic Thiem +336, Rafael Nadal -406
Twelve months after their meeting at last year's French Open final, Dominic Thiem will make another attempt to dethrone Rafael Nadal but even though the Austrian has four wins against the King of Clay on his favorite surface, he is yet to beat the Spaniard in a best of five.
While Rafael Nadal usually looks unbeatable on his beloved surface and has been strongly backed by the bookies prior to the competition, the experienced Spaniard is just one match away from winning his 12th French Open title.
Dominic Thiem has made it to the final match at Roland Garros for the second year in a row and the talented Austrian will have to overcome his fatigue (both physical and mental) after the delayed semi-final against Novak Djokovic if he wants to win his first ever Grand Slam trophy right here in Paris.
Dominic Thiem is one of the few players who can boast four victories over Nadal on clay-courts and his most recent one came just a few weeks ago when he beat Nadal 6-4, 6-4 in the ATP Barcelona semi-finals. However, Thiem is yet to defeat Nadal in a Grand Slam as his best opportunity was at the 2018 US Open quarter-finals where the Spaniard prevailed in a dramatic five-setter, which was their only encounter on a different surface than clay.
Nadal leads 8-4 in their head-to-head meetings but considering that 11 of them were on clay-courts, we can clearly say that Thiem has achieved an extremely impressive record against the most successful French Open champion.
Furthermore, Thiem is yet to win a set against Nadal at Roland Garros. In addition to last year's final defeat, Thiem has also been eliminated by Nadal in the 2017 semi-finals and in the second round in 2014, which was his French Open debut.
Rafael Nadal's Form
The 33-years-old Spaniard should be well-rested here as he recorded an easy win over Roger Federer on Friday and had the Saturday off. To be honest, Nadal's workload hasn't been significant lately as he lost just one set in six matches (3-1 vs David Goffin in the third round) and it would be a massive surprise if he doesn't improve his own French Open record.
Moreover, Nadal will be inspired by the 11 consecutive victories, winning the trophy in Rome a few days before the French Open. His last defeat was against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Madrid Masters semi-finals – a month ago – and he has lost just two sets ever since.
Except the dropped set against Goffin, Nadal has been flawless (winning in straight sets) against the likes of Juan Ignacio Londero, Yannick Hanfmann, Yannick Maden, Kei Nishikori and most remarkably – against Roger Federer – in the past rounds.
Dominic Thiem's Form
Thiem produced a heroic performance and showed excellent mentality to down world's number one (according to the ATP Rankings) Novak Djokovic, but he doesn't have enough time to celebrate. The ambitious Austrian must recover as quickly as possible after the exhausting and prolonged five-setter against Djokovic in what seems to be the greatest challenge of the French Open, at least until Nadal is in the game.
Dominic Thiem didn't had the most impressive start to his 2019 French Open campaign, dropping sets against each of Tommy Paul, Alexander Bublik and Pablo Cuevas in the first three rounds, but he regained his mojo right on time and the 3-0 wins over Gael Monfils and Karen Khachanov marked his resurrection. Not that 3-1 is a disappointing results, but often, if you want to win a Grand Slam, you must be more rude in the first rounds.
The next challenge lying ahead of Thiem is far greater than simply just a physical test, he must mentally reload after a draining victory against Novak Djokovic. It was definitely a performance worthy of landing a first Grand Slam title, but the Austrian will leave empty handed if he fail to go far beyond his best tennis against Rafa Nadal on Sunday.
Let's be realistic – Nadal was and still is the ultra favorite and his consistency couldn't make him a stronger favorite, no matter if he face Djokovic or Thiem.
No doubt Rafael Nadal was rubbing his hands with glee by the way Djokovic and Thiem hit chunks out of each other, and it seems very unlikely that the talented Austrian will be at his physical peak come Sunday’s final.
However, we were backing Thiem as a possible winner before the competition and we believe that he can finally win a set (at least) against his glorious Spanish opponent.