Known as the undisputed king of clay, Rafael Nadal has made Roland Garros his own, buoying on his unparalleled stamina and muscle. However, every era comes to an end and although he is still on top, his usurper is around the corner in Dominic Thiem, who was seen outdoing the legend on Sunday.
The manner in which Thiem beat Djokovic in the semi-final of the French Open has pretty much convinced one and all that the Austrian ace is there to stay on the clay surfaces and make it his own in the coming future.
However, playing against the best who ever lived on that surface was always going to be a different ball game. He was up against a beast now who was the most relentless player the sport had ever seen. Going for winners wasn’t really the best option on Sunday as Nadal was acquainted with every inch of the Court Philippe-Chatrier and could contemplate every possible situation.
The only way to get something out of the battle was to beat the Spaniard in his own game and Thiem was seen doing exactly that. The incident happened in the fifth game of the first set with Nadal serving as both sat at 30-30. After Thiem successfully returned the serve down the T, Nadal tried a drop shot to lure his opponent closer.
Though it looked difficult to reach, Thiem managed and stayed at the net to return two more of Nadal’s shots on the volley. Nadal then tried exploiting the space on Thiem’s left with a down the line backhand, but there was no stopping the Austrian who reached that too to return with a rotating backhand.
Nadal could hit it straight this time at Thiem, who had positioned himself at the baseline now. And as soon as the shot came, he finished the move with his vintage jumping inside out forehand. The hopelessness on Nadal’s face said it all and maybe a taste of what he had been doing to other players for the longest time in his career.