Dominic Thiem said he felt "more fresh" today heading into this French Open final against Rafael Nadal compared to last year. Whist he did go four sets a couple of times in his early rounds like in 2018, his semifinal match was nowhere near as taxing and marathon-esque like this year.
An over four-hour match that lasted over two days and dealt with over six stoppages due to rain and wind, but Thiem prevailed after signaling some nerves in the fifth set where he was a break to defeat Novak Djokovic.
Meanwhile, Nadal had only dropped one set in this whole tournament to David Goffin and had the benefit of having played early on Friday before the delays as well as having Saturday off.
The narrative headed into this final was a consensus Nadal win especially against the Austrian who played a semifinal over two days against the world number one. But in sport, nothing is ever guaranteed unless you're Rafael Nadal in the last two rounds of the French Open.
Nadal took home La Duodécima with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory.
It was the Austrian who was getting the opportunities on the Nadal serve early on as he knew he had to be the aggressor. He got his break in the fifth game only to give it right back to Nadal. A back-and-fourth seventh game saw Nadal pull ahead once again.
The fourth seed had one break chance in that seventh game and from then on, Nadal looked to be well in control. The 11-time champion broke Thiem right after and took the set 6-3.
The two were dominant on serve in set two. They combined to drop six points on serve in 11 games with Nadal only dropping one. The 12th game threw in a curveball with Nadal going down 15-40 and knocking a forehand long to give the Austrian set two, becoming the first current male player under 30 to win a set in a major final.
Level Down, Level Up
One would think Thiem would be up for it to start the third set after getting set two. However, Nadal kicked it into high gear winning 11 straight and 16 of 17 points to start the third to fly out to a 4-0 lead. Thiem was getting a little wild with his shots in those exchanges but got back to his controlled aggression finally getting on the board with a love hold in the fifth game.
That one game is all the fourth seed would get in set three, having won only a singular point on the Nadal serve that set. He had his chance to break in the opening game of set four. The 11-time champion broke immediately after as he continued to hound Thiem.
The body language clearly looked down for the four seed as he knew time was running out to make a move. Two break chances did not go his way again with Nadal hitting pinpoint serves to set up quick finishes, moving him three games away from La Duodécima.
Three break point chances again for Nadal, but Thiem turned it on with back-to-back aces and a forehand winner for good measure. The Austrian got the hold and kept the pressure on the Spaniard. That one game was all Thiem could manage though as Nadal stormed his way to a 12th French Open title.