Their clay showdowns outside of Roland Garros have been ones to remember, this time, it was one to forget if you were Dominic Thiem. The Austrian was truly crushed in a one-sided affair against Rafael Nadal at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters as the Spaniard cruised a 6-0, 6-2 victory and will face Grigor Dimitrov for a spot in the final.
Bagels On Board
Nadal was taking the huge blows from Thiem with ease early on and that quickly led to the break. A backhand cross-court found the sideline, leaving Thiem with little chance to get it over and giving the 10-time champion in the principality, the lead.
The world number one was just absolutely lethal in his attack, hitting all his spots and leaving the 24-year-old Austrian with no room to maneuver. The spot-on execution from Nadal left Thiem impatient with his attack as he was trying to find answers, but a forehand into the net quickly put himself a second break down.
The Spaniard was finally tested in his service game, but even his defense turned into offense as the world number one continued to put Thiem in uncomfortable positions during rallies. The first set ended in just 32 minutes as it was cruise control for the world number one.
Fighting Back Not Enough
More of the same was expected in the second set with how strong Nadal was plus the fact that Thiem could not get anything going. The backhand of the Austrian continued to break down as the world number one continuously targeted that side, as he usually does against one-handers. It was nine games on the bounce for Nadal as he looked to really take it to Thiem by going for the double-bagel.
After Thiem held for his first game of the match, the crowd let out a huge roar as they wanted him to get back into it. However, he was continuously bullied around the court by Nadal, as he does with most opponents on the red clay.
One of Nadal's very few errors, a backhand return into the net, gave Thiem his second game of the set but that's all he would get in this matchup. You could argue in this match, the backhand of Nadal was as good or even better than his forehand as he was just hitting every angle and corner possible.
The match ended with a Thiem backhand into the net, which was fitting to how this match was played, an impatient, overpowered Thiem against the sheer power and perfection of Nadal. The two shared a warm embrace at the net to end it off.
Serves Hurt Thiem
The serving numbers were what really hurt the 24-year-old in the end. He hit 41 percent of first serves in, winning only 52 percent of those points. While on the second serve, he only won 37 percent of those points. Compare that to Nadal who won 80 percent or more of both first and second serve points.