Is Dominic Thiem ready to displace Rafael Nadal at the French Open 2019?

Dominic Thiem won the title in Barcelona by taking Rafael Nadal out in the semi-final and Daniil Medvedev in the final, last week. Thiem had won the Indian Wells Masters – on the hard-courts in March – by eliminating Roger Federer in the finals. Is he finally ready to take on Rafael Nadal and beat him to the punch for the French Open crown this year?


Dominic Thiem’s playing style.

Dominic Thiem hits a hard top-spun ball and is essentially an aggressive-base-liner with a powerful kick serve, forehand, and single-handed backhand. Because of his longer back-swing, we believe, he tends to stand a little behind the baseline and – at times – can fall way behind it. His backhand shots are powerful and equipped with an effective slice and excellent drop-shot, naturally disguised by the single-hander. His final against Daniil Medvedev also showed a tactically intelligent mind of a mature problem solver.


Daniil Medvedev

Daniil Medvedev’s game came undone by the tactical genius of Thiem.

Down 1-3 in the first and unable to handle the baseline assault of Daniil Medvedev, Thiem changed tactics by switching his top-spin shots for biting slices which kept low and disrupted, the 6’7” tall, Daniil’s baseline rhythm quite effectively. The effective and timely use of the slice helped Dominic Thiem trounce Daniil, 6-4, 6-0.

The use of the slice as an effective tool to disrupt rhythm – of opponent – was a little overused by Roger in the past, Thiem may have resurrected its use as a tactical play against the taller players.


Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal was outplayed and dominated by Dominic Thiem in Barcelona.

Dominic Thiem beat Rafael Nadal by playing a typical clay court game, albeit with more power and aggression. He stumped Nadal with the length of his shots, baseline aggression, and power. His backhands and forehands were firing on all cylinders, and the variation and ability to strike the ball early from the back-hand clinched him the crucial points when Nadal tried to target his single-hander, in the hope of breaking it apart.

Thiem did not shy away from prolonged rallies and used his power and length, in protracted exchanges, to draw short or loose balls or errors from Nadal. Thiem, therefore, overpowered Nadal by playing a typical clay-court match in the Barcelona semifinals.


What, therefore, are Dominic Thiem’s prospects at the French Open 2019?

If Dominic Thiem can play, all his French Open matches, with the same aggression and belief, he’d have a better shot – than either Nadal or Djokovic – at taking the La Coupe des Mousquetaires home in 2019.

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