Duel Match Stats/Reports - Thiem vs Nadal, Rome & Madrid quarter-finals, 2017 & 2018

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Dominic Thiem beat Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-3 in the Rome quarter-final, 2017 on clay

Thiem would go onto lose in the next round to Novak Djokovic. It was Thiem's second win over Nadal. The two had played finals in Barcelona and Madrid shortly before, with Nadal winning both

Thiem won 75 points, Nadal 62

Serve Stats
Thiem...
- 1st serve percentage (41/67) 61%
- 1st serve points won (28/41) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (15/26) 58%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (12/67) 18%

Nadal....
- 1st serve percentage (53/70) 76%
- 1st serve points won (29/53) 55%
- 2nd serve points won (9/17) 53%
- Aces 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (13/70) 19%

Serve Patterns
Thiem served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 69%
- to Body 2%

Nadal served...
- to FH 17%
- to BH 76%
- to Body 7%

Return Stats
Thiem made...
- 57 (15 FH, 42 BH), including 5 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 12 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- 8 Forced (8 BH)
- Return Rate (57/70) 81%

Nadal made...
- 53 (20 FH, 33 BH), including 5 runaround FHs
- 10 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (2 FH, 2 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 6 Forced (2 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (53/65) 82%

Break Points
Thiem 4/8 (5 games)
Nadal 1/7 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Thiem 22 (13 FH, 5 BH, 1 FHV, 3 OH)
Nadal 20 (12 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 OH)

Thiem's FHs - 7 cc (2 passes), 1 dtl, 4 inside-out and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 2 dtl and 1 net chord dribbler return

- 1 FHV was a swinging shot and 1 OH was on the bounce

Nadal's FHs - 3 cc, 4 dtl, 1 dtl/inside-out, 2 inside-out, 1 inside-in and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 1 cc and 1 dtl pass

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Thiem 27
- 19 Unforced (10 FH, 8 BH, 1 FHV)... with 1 non-net swinging FHV
- 8 Forced (3 FH, 5 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.9

Nadal 41
- 25 Unforced (15 FH, 10 BH)
- 16 Forced (7 FH, 8 BH, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48

(Note 1: All 1/2 volleys refer to such shots played at net. 1/2 volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke numbers)

(Note 2: the Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is an indicator of how aggressive the average UE was. The numbers presented for these two matches are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Thiem was...
- 8/10 (80%) at net, with...
- 1/1 forced back

Nadal was...
- 11/16 (69%) at net, with...
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
Inspired showing from Thiem as he collars baseline action with gusto and calculated risk, Nadal adjusts accordingly - first, falling back to try weather the storm and later, upping the bossiness of his own play - but Thiem's able to sustain a very high standard in his beefed up game and gets the better of things

Right from the start, Thiem is belting the cover off the ball. Off both sides. The BHs look as big as the FHs and the FHs are huge. He goes for adventurous point ending shots, particularly FH inside-out, and usually makes them. He slams BH cc's pushing Nadal back. There's power theres, loads of spin, there's wrong footing shots, the works

Just on power alone, Thiem's hitting is potentially overwhelming. Throw in exaggerated spin on the FH in particular and doubly so. He hits attackingly wide - not too risky, but attacking - on top of it. Flattens out the odd shot and hits it particularly deep. And throws in the point ending shots. And remains pretty consistent doing all that

Its high end, beat-down power baselining at least and upped from there to attacking, with measued shot making chances thrown in.

Initially, Nadal's forced back behind the baseline. This isn't a Nadal falling-back-when-slightly-attacked thing - he's pounded back. Runs about counter-punching pretty well and doesn't give up unduly soft balls (which would have been likely outcome against what he's faced). Occasionally has no answer - and Thiem strikes a winner. And sometimes Thiem misses

In second set, Nadal subtley steps up more (figuritively & literally) to contest for command of play. Starts hitting wider and moving Thiem around. Goes for his own winners, particularly but not exclusively off the FH (usually with success). And starts working his way to net to finish - which takes immaculate judgment and point construction. Thiem's hitting is about the most uninviting of net play as imaginable

Thiem plays the same way, but control of rallies is more up for grabs now. The greater moving-opponent-around dynamic implemented by Nadal (as opposed to hit through/beat-down play of firs set) opens up chances for him to wrong foot Nadal - and there some stunning shots where he does that. His power is such that if he hits in unanticipated direction, its likely to end the point

The match has come out nicely in numbers (as in, they accurately capture play)
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Winners - Thiem 22, Nadal 20
Errors Forced - Thiem 16, Nadal 8
UEs - Thiem 19, Nadal 25

Winners are virtually equal, both players scoring heavily with FH (Thiem 13, Nadal 12). Thiem uses his FH to finish Nadal off after beating him down or by adventurously going for a shot that's not obviously there. Thiem's able to draw enough weak balls that he can move around to hit inside-out (where he has 4 winners), even though his BH is more than capable of attacking cc. Nadal doesn't, and has to go for dtl point finishers (where has has 5 winners) from near even positions. The best shot making comes from Thiem's sharply angled cc's, where has very high 5 winners. Always a good sign when you can finish points with the most basic of shots

Both players have personal high UEs of FH too - Thiem 10, Nadal 15. More of Thiem's are winner attempts (i.e. a product of attacking), and more of Nadal's are beaten out of him (product of being pushed on back foot)

The biggest difference are in the FEs and testament to vigour of Thiem's play. For starters, forcing 16 errors while drawing 25 UEs is a very heavy yield of FEs for Nadal. Thiem's not content to ball bash Nadal down (and likely, it wouldn't work. Nadal is typically dogged in resisting giving up errors), but ups things from there to hitting wider to finish points. Nadal doesn't have that kind of beat-down power to begin with so has to start by moving Thiem around - and Thiem's swift enough to cover the challenge

Much of Thiem's much smaller 8 FEs are passing shots. Nadal can't outmanuver him or overpower him from the back to extent of forcing errors

39% of Nadal's errors are forced. Considerably lower 30% of Thiem's are - good indicator of relative hitting strenght and attacking vigour. Understating it if anything, with Nadal drawing his at net

Shots ordered by consistency (i.e. UEs)
- Thiem BH 8
- Nadal BH 10
- Thiem FH 11 (counting a non-net, swinging FHV as a FH)
- Nadal FH 15

And UEs broken down by type
- Neutral - Thiem 10, Nadal 13
- Attacking - Thiem 1, Nadal 4
- Winner attempts - both 8

Essentially, everything favours Thiem, just a little bit. With most rallies being cc based...

- Thiem's match low 8 BHs is excellent outcome as it outdoes the Nadal FH almost 2:1. Resisting Nadal's FH cc's is critical for any right hander to do well against him. Thiem is well, well past 'resisting'. He's got slight hitting advantage in the cc rallies, pushes Nadal back and wide while remaining very secure. Good lot of Nadal's 7 FH FEs would be drawn by Thiem's BH cc too

Nadal's FHs greater damaging capability doesn't particularly come out of staple cc rallies. A signficant win for Thiem in his BH vs Nadal FH rallies

- The opposite, Thiem FH - Nadal BH also ends up favouring Thiem. He's got substantial hitting advantage - due to his shot being extreme, not Nadal's the opposite. And ends up just as consistent. Plenty of Thiem's winners and errors he forces flow out of this rally. Nadal does well to hang in off the BH to extent he does. He's driven to go for some attacking dtl shots that either miss or Theim's able to run down with effort

Thiem with just the 1 attacking UE while forcing 16 errors is superb. As you'd expect with Nadal, good lot of attacking shots come back and don't force errors. Nadal has the same problem, but his attacking shots aren't as powerful. With most the errors he forces being passes, he barely breaks for 4 attacking UEs. Good defence by Thiem

8 Winner attempts apiece is also a win for Thiem as he's got more winners overall (22-20) and fewer volleying ones (4-6)

- Usually on clay, neutral UEs are key to play. That's not really true here. Thiem's 'neutral' shot is highly pressuring, skirting close to being attacking. For Thiem, the more aggressive player, to lead in neutral UEs 10-13 is a terrible outlook for Nadal

In nutshell, Thiem doing a little bit better at practically everything from the baseline - BH-FH rallies, FH-BH rallies, hitting strenght, basic consistency, attacking vigour, efficiency of attacks. And both players doing well

Biggest difference - Thiem being able to force errors out of Nadal (via heavy hitting dialled up to wide and heavy hitting) in a way Nadal can't out of him (via moving Thiem around). The difference is a product of Thiem's greater attacking vigour, not his defending better. Defence is good enough from both

Match Progression
Thiem's out of the gate in a hurry and blasts through Nadal to break at once. He adds a second break to move up 4-1, that he consolidates in a 10 point game (no break points)

With Thiem serving for the set, Nadal lets loose with 2 FH dtl winners to go up 0-30. Theim replies with one of his own. Game goes on to 10 points, Thiem misses 3 winner attempts (FH inside-in, FH dtl and a non-net swinging FHV) and Nadal gets 1 break back

Thiem serves out second time of asking to 15. Nadal misses dtl winner attempts of last 2 points (1 of each side), unsual shot choices for him, particularly in the circumstances and a sign of his realizing that counter-punching against Thiem's power hitting isn't going to cut it

Accordingly, Nadal is more proactive in 2nd set. Comes to net more, pointedly steps in a bit more and takes to moving Thiem side to side and occasionally, back. Thiem's movement is up to it, including running-down the odd good drop shot from Nadal

7/9 games go to deuce and both playes serve exactly 8 points per game. Throw in hard hitting, fluid action with command of it up for grabs, its a great set of tennis

From 40-30 down, Thiem knocks away 3 stunning winners - a perfect, wrong footing BH dtl, a BH cc pass after having been dragged in by Nadal's drop shot and then forced back adn finally a FH inside-out + FH cc 1-2. He has to save 3 break points to consolidate

Ending is a tad disappointing. From 40-15 up, Nadal is broken again. Some pressuring shots by Thiem and Nadal misses adventurous winner attempts too, so not too bad

Summing up, an amazing showing from Thiem. Off both sides he hits very hard, but with heavy spin (particularly on the FH) while throwing out the odd, flat ball to near baseline as a base standard and from there, ups things to hitting wide while going for and usually making the occasional risky point finisher off the FH. And remains consistent doing all that

Nadal is forced on back foot for first half of match and counter-attacks with some wide hitting and shot making of his own in second half. His FH is excellent of shotmaking and his arrays to net are well controlled, but Thiem's able to retrieve and defend against Nadal's attacks than the other way around

Good stuff from Nadal, great stuff from Thiem and a top class match

Stats for Thiem's semi with Novak Djokovic - Match Stats/Report - Djokovic vs Thiem, Rome semi-final, 2017 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)
Stats for pair's Madrid final - Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Thiem, Madrid final, 2017 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)
 

Tennisfan339

Professional
Rome 2017 was such a weird tournament. Thiem beat peak Nadal in straight sets on clay for the first time in an epic match, during one of Nadal's best seasons ever on clay (won RG without dropping a set 2 weeks later). But then was almost double baggled in SF by a Djokovic playing his D game during the worst season of his career. The following day the same Djokovic was obliterated in final by a 19yo Rookie playing his first Masters final. Rarely saw anything more contradicory on the ATP Tour.
 

Kralingen

G.O.A.T.
Thiem also got bagelled on Chatrier very brutally later in the year. Poor guy. It wouldn’t be so painful if he didn’t show the clear flashes of potential like this match.
 

Third Serve

Talk Tennis Guru
Rome 2017 was such a weird tournament. Thiem beat peak Nadal in straight sets on clay for the first time in an epic match, during one of Nadal's best seasons ever on clay (won RG without dropping a set 2 weeks later). But then was almost double baggled in SF by a Djokovic playing his D game during the worst season of his career. The following day the same Djokovic was obliterated in final by a 19yo Rookie playing his first Masters final. Rarely saw anything more contradicory on the ATP Tour.
To be fair, Novak was playing close to his A game throughout Rome 2017. It genuinely looked like a return to form for him, but then two things happened: Zverev played honestly one of his best matches to secure the win, and Djokovic took a nosedive in level. Same thing happened at the 2018 ATP Finals.
 

The Big Foe fan

Hall of Fame
To be fair, Novak was playing close to his A game throughout Rome 2017. It genuinely looked like a return to form for him, but then Zverev played honestly one of his best matches to secure the win.
How many times does it happen than Djokovic doesn't have a single break point in entire match?
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
No, I'm serious... I just checked: all his clay resume has to offer is measly 2 ATP 500 Barcelonas. Embarrasing is the word and there's no two ways about it.
It would take an all-time effort to topple Nadal on Chatrier even from ‘17-‘19.

But yeah, Thiem had difficulty stringing together multiple great showings in one tournament against the top guys.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
It would take an all-time effort to topple Nadal on Chatrier even from ‘17-‘19.

But yeah, Thiem had difficulty stringing together multiple great showings in one tournament against the top guys.
Not topple, but he should've made the matches closer considering he's 7 years younger. At least in 2018-2019 if you want to argue that Nadal was too good in 2017 anyway.
 

Biotic

Hall of Fame
It would take an all-time effort to topple Nadal on Chatrier even from ‘17-‘19.

But yeah, Thiem had difficulty stringing together multiple great showings in one tournament against the top guys.
No one even mentioned RG, forget about it. Is one single M1000 too much to ask for?
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
Not topple, but he should've made the matches closer considering he's 7 years younger. At least in 2018-2019 if you want to argue that Nadal was too good in 2017 anyway.
Yeah, perhaps, but in the end it doesn’t really change the bottom line much. He’s still been futile at the biggest stages of clay tournies and a lot of it is due to Nadal. Hard to find fault when there seems to be a massive talent deficit. Thiem is a workhorse in much the way that Muster was.
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
No one even mentioned RG, forget about it. Is one single M1000 too much to ask for?
Yeah, but replay 2017-2019 100 times and how many of those simulations would feature Thiem getting whitewashed?

It’s a mix of bad luck, top-heavy competition (rest of the clay field is pretty bad but Nadal in top form spells disaster) and some genuine bottling.
 

Biotic

Hall of Fame
Yeah, but replay 2017-2019 100 times and how many of those simulations would feature Thiem getting whitewashed?

It’s a mix of bad luck, top-heavy competition (rest of the clay field is pretty bad but Nadal in top form spells disaster) and some genuine bottling.
Only it doesn't work that way. Everyone faces drawbacks you mentioned. Some of them even more. In my simulation Djoko doesn't lose 2014 USO SF 99/100 times. Unfortunately, 1/100 is what happened.
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
Only it doesn't work that way. Everyone faces drawbacks you mentioned. Some of them even more. In my simulation Djoko doesn't lose 2014 USO SF 99/100 times. Unfortunately, 1/100 is what happened.

Yes, and I opined that it’s a mix of bad luck, genuinely poor play in big moments from Thiem, and one Rafael Nadal.

This is hardly controversial.


The fact that it ‘doesn’t work that way’ is a truism, of course it doesn’t…there are no do-overs for these things. I get that. Doesn’t mean root-cause analysis can’t be a fun exercise.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Thiem beat Nadal 7-5, 6-3 in the Madrid quarter-final, 2018 on clay

Thiem would go onto lose in the final to Alex Zverev. The two would go onto meet again in the French Open final shortly after with Nadal winning. The two had recently played in Monte Carlo with Nadal winning

Thiem won 75 points, Nadal 62

Serve Stats
Thiem...
- 1st serve percentage (38/60) 63%
- 1st serve points won (28/38) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (10/22) 45%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (8/60) 13%

Nadal...
- 1st serve percentage (45/77) 58%
- 1st serve points won (29/45) 64%
- 2nd serve points won (11/32) 34%
- Aces 3 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (19/77) 25%

Serve Patterns
Thiem served...
- to FH 24%
- to BH 76%

Nadal served...
- to FH 17%
- to BH 69%
- to Body 13%

Return Stats
Thiem made...
- 56 (26 FH, 30 BH)
- 16 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (4 FH, 3 BH)
- 9 Forced (9 BH)
- Return Rate (56/75) 75%

Nadal made...
- 47 (13 FH, 34 BH), including 3 runaround FHs
- 6 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 3 Forced (1 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (47/55) 85%

Break Points
Thiem 5/12 (6 games)
Nadal 2/5 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Thiem 27 (17 FH, 5 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 3 OH)
Nadal 9 (6 FH, 1 BH, 1 FH1/2V, 1 OH)

Thiem's FHs - 2 cc, 4 dtl, 10 inside-out and 1 inside-out/dtl
- BHs - 3 cc (1 pass), 1 dtl and 1 running-down-drop-shot dtl pass at net

- 3 from serve-volley points - 2 first 'volleys' (1 FH1/2V, 1 OH) & 1 second volley (1 FHV)

Nadal's FHs - 1 cc, 1 cc/inside-in, 3 dtl and 1 inside-out
- BH pass - 1 cc

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Thiem 29
- 21 Unforced (12 FH, 9 BH)
- 8 Forced (6 FH, 2 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.7

Nadal 38
- 29 Unforced (15 FH, 13 BH, 1 OH)... with 1 OH on the bounce from no-man's land
- 9 Forced (3 FH, 5 BH, 1 Sky Hook)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.2

(Note 1: All 1/2 volleys refer to such shots played at net. 1/2 volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke numbers)

(Note 2: the Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is an indicator of how aggressive the average UE was. The numbers presented for these two matches are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Thiem was...
- 8/9 (89%) at net, including...
- 3/4 (75%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves

Nadal was...
- 4/9 (44%) at net, with...
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
Two part match on a quick-for-clay court. Thiem is again, outstanding but in a more solid, less zoning (i.e. more sustainable) way than the '17 Rome match. Nadal is a bit off at times, and his returning style leaves window open for Thiem to dominate - and Thiem obliges

Quick background. Nadal, according to commentary, was on a 50 set winning streak on clay, starting from the '17 Rome match. Recently, he'd won titles in Monte Carlo (beating Thiem 0 & 2 along the way) and Barcelona.

First half features sound but strong hitting from both players, with Thiem having slightly better of things. He goes for the occasional adventurous attacking shot while Nadal sticks to keeping ball heavily in play. Nadal's BH tends to blink and give up errors

Ending of first set is 'chokey' and not just from Nadal. Thiem blows chances too, with out of norm for passage of play, but comes out ahead to take the tight set

Thiem dominates the second set by contrast and more or less blasts Nadal away, with difference in play springing from vast differences in effectiveness in the way the two players return

3 features stand out
- shaping play is differences in returning style (Thiem orthodox, Nadal from well back)
- Thiem controlling rallies to keep things primarily on his FH and he has hitting advantage in cc rallies from there
- Thiem's shot making and attacking point construction with the FH - outstanding

Thiem returns from orthodox position just behind baseline against Nadal's hefty serve. Nadal returns from as far back as possible against Thiem's slightly more powerful serve

'Hefty' at most serving from Nadal, and in Thiem's swing zone. Not difficult to return. Standing further back, would expect Thiem to virtually make 'em all. Standing where he is, he gives up the odd routine error. No big deal, but it stand outs next to Nadal, who does make 'em all

Return rates - Nadal 85%, Thiem 75%
Return UEs - Nadal 3, Thiem 7 (with relatively not-easy UEs for Thiem)
Return FEs - Nadal 3, Thiem 9 (with relatively makeable FEs for Thiem)

... and Nadal with the extra ace and Thiem with 3 extra double faults. Nadal's coming of a lot better on the freebies

The trade off is in quality of returns. Thiem's tend to be neutralizing (not that Nadal's serve is intended or particularly likely to give him big initiative to start rally), Nadal's leave Thiem plenty of time to take his choice of big cut

Are the freebies worth it for Nadal (he leads unreturned rate 25% to 13%)?

Turns out no (clearly), but possibly. No telling who'll get the better off 50-50 rallies. And possible for Thiem to overreach attacking or Nadal defend outstandingly too

In the event -

a) Thiem gets better of 50-50 rallies. Majority of them are based around Thiem FH - Nadal BH. That in itself is a win for Thiem, but he stilL has to execute and he does. Nadal's BH is a bit off as far as giving up the neutral UE goes

b) Thiem obliterates Nadal from strong starting position with combinations of FHs, where he has 17 winners, 12 UEs

Good job by Thiem to dominate play. Nadal's returning leaves open the possiblity for it, but he delivers in spades
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
The match is considerably different to '17 Rome. There, Thiem took risk and ended up zoning. Here, he plays well out of a solid foundation and Nadal stumbles a bit. One thing they do have in common is Thiem is better at just about everything

Winners - Thiem 27, Nadal 9
Errors Forced - Thiem 9, Nadal 8

Thiem has 17 FH winners alone. 11 of them are inside-out based and 4 dtl. Dispatches weak returns. Or works Nadal over with first wide cc shot and then takes his shot either inside-out or dtl for the winner. Typical, very powerful but controlled first attacking, court opening shot (potentially point ending, but Nadal usually resists) - followed by perfect finishing.

When in a bit of trouble, Thiem serve-volleys - winning 3/4, including with a first 'volley' FH1/2V winner. Or creates an approach - he's got Nadal pushed back enough that it readily suggests itself, but he's doing so well attacking from the back that there's no obvious need for it - and invariably wins. 5/5 rallying to net for Thiem - 2 of them winners. Nice to have an even surer finishing option than the overflowing shot making of his FH

Not much offence from Nadal. He takes his shot FH dtl from normal cc rallies with some success. 3 winners with the shot and Thiem's got match high 6 FH FEs. Good lot of missing too though by the Nadal FH

UEs - Thiem 21, Nadal 29

Groundstroke UEs, ordered by frequency
- Thiem BH 9
- Thiem FH 12
- Nadal BH 13
- Nadal FH 15

UEs by type -
- Neutral - Thiem 13, Nadal 17
- Attacking - Thiem 4, Nadal 9
- Winner Attempts - Thiem 4, Nadal 3

Just shy of literally, not one thing Nadal does better. The only exception is having 1 fewer winner attempt UE - but with Thiem leading winners 27-9, that's as token as token can be

That's against backdrop of substantial +12% unreturned serves for Nadal, so Thiem starts with handicap and needs to do better than him in play. But the extent to which he manages is very impressive

Thiem's BH being most secure shot on show and Thiem being more consistent neutrally are particularly bad news from Nadal's point of view

As for Nadal, the 29 UE count is high enough to indicate his not playing. Contrary to stats, its the BH that's most problematic. It blinks neutrally in rallies with Thiem's FH. The FH UEs are more attacking errors amidst intense rallies and with Thiem blazing winners. Thiem overwhelming Nadal stands out more than a highly pressured Nadal being poorly error prone, but also fair to say Nadal not playing particularly well

Match Progression
Match starts with strong, sound hitting from both players. More rallies are Thiem FH - Nadal BH and the Nadal BH tends to give up the errors. Its the FH that caves though with 5 UEs as Thiem break to move ahead 4-3

At 30-30 next game, Nadal misses 2 routine returns. Very odd for him. Game after, Thiem steps up to seve for the set and has set point at 40-30 after Nadal misses another routine return. Thiem takes his chance at FH dtl winner on it - and just misses. Then double faults and misses a regulation, neutral third ball FH to be broken

Nadal returns the favour, missing an OH on the bounce from near service line and a FH from just behind it to be broken again. Two horrendous misses. No trouble serving out second time of asking by Thiem, who opens game with 2 FH winers, throws in a serve-volley to bring up set point and fires down an ace to seal the set

Nadal's ability to return with comfort does a nose dive in second set, though he continues to barely miss any returns and Thiem takes charge of action. Short returns are hammered with back-away FH inside-out winners. Or Thiem commands play with hard hit, step in FH cc's that set up kill shots in opposite direction

Thiem grabs break to move ahead 2-1 and then saves 2 break points to consolidate. Both players hit a wonderful FH1/2V winner in the 2 games

Thiem gets a bit carried away in going for his winners with no set up at all, and gets broken to put set back on serve at 3-3. Thiem wins the last 3 games though (2 breaks) to end the match. Interesting passage of play where the overpowered Nadal throws up a number of extra looped FH inside-in's (not far from being moonballs) to get the ball high to Thiem's BH that's been so steady all match. Thiem replies with BH longline moonballs. Not many rallies of this type, but an attempt to try something else by Nadal

Thiem's last hold is to love and contains 3 third ball FH inside-out winners. Appropriately enough, he finishes the match with another in a 10 point break

Summing up, another excellent showing from Thiem who controls plays to tune of keeping things on his FH, which is able to outsteady Nadal's BH to give him an edge early on. Later on, as Nadal returns get shorter (though still very regular) and Thiem is devastating in attacking with combinations of FHs in all directions, leaving Nadal helpless. Not a good match from Nadal, whose consistency is off, but far more credit to Thiem for the result

Sustainably impressive, attacking display from Thiem built on solid foundation off the ground. Problematically passive returning from Nadal

Stats for pair's French Open final - Match Stats/Report - Nadal vs Thiem, French Open final, 2018 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)
 
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