Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Rafa Nadal
- Rafa Nadal (-455) will take on Dominic Thiem (+320) in the French Open final Sunday morning at 9 a.m. ET.
- Nadal is seeking his 11th French Open title, the most of any player at a single Grand Slam.
- Thiem already has a win over Nadal this season (in Madrid) and is responsible for Rafa’s last two losses on clay.
As Rafa Nadal, the King of Clay, and Dominic Thiem — perhaps, the Prince of Clay — square off on Sunday in the French Open final, the tennis world will largely be divided into two groups. Those who want to see history repeat itself, with Rafa hoisting La Coupe des Mousquetaires for the 11th time. And those who want to see a fresh face take down the invincible Nadal — with Thiem stepping forward as this year’s brave challenger.
But Thiem isn’t just another “challenger.”
Nadal’s last two losses on clay came against the Austrian — including the last time these two met. Just a month ago in Madrid, Thiem got the better of Rafa, advancing in straight sets. That snapped Nadal’s 19-match winning streak on clay.
That said, Sunday will present a much different task for the young Thiem. It’s one thing to take down Nadal on the clay in a best-of-three-sets match. But, dethroning Nadal — on court Philippe Chatrier — in a best-of-five match presents an entirely different obstacle.
Below, we’ll examine the case for each man — and take a look at some of the different ways I see this match going down. But, first, let’s see how the two have fared against each other on clay courts over the years.