Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

The Coach: Nadal must be aggressive to beat Thiem

The Coach: Nadal must be aggressive to beat Thiem

He removed the tape from his left wrist and seemed to take a tablet.

Nadal said of his wrist cramp: "I was very scared". After guzzling water during his visit from the doctor, Nadal was back to playing his unmistakable brand of almost unbeatable clay-court tennis.

Rafael Nadal, the 10-time champion only stands in the Austrian's path of winning a major in his first ever slam final.

After the match, Nadal said that the game needs Thiem and he "will win here in the next few years". He also beat the Spaniard in Buenos Aires in 2016.

But that's the best-of-three sets and in different, faster conditions.

The number of titles won by Nadal on clay, extending his lead at the top of the men's Open Era leaderboard, ahead of Vilas (49) and Austria's Thomas Muster (40). Its all square now in the first set, 2-2.

But against Thiem, there was nothing wrong with Nadal's start. He won the first six points and broke for 2-0.

In fact, Thiem is so good on clay that he has downed Nadal three times on the surface, including earlier this year at the Madrid Open.

Thiem used to hike through the Alps in his homeland as part of his training, but the 24-year-old had an even bigger mountain to climb now.

Nadal then served out that game.

The match turned at 5-4 when, on the first point, Thiem missed a simple forehand volley.

The Austrian hit straight back to inflict an eleventh break of the tournament on the Spaniard as the first set became a mixture of brilliance and attrition, with the first seven games taking 45 minutes. He dropped serve on a fifth break chance.

If there were any reason for a bit of intrigue entering Sunday's match, it was this: Thiem beat Nadal in two sets on red clay at Rome in May 2017 and again at Madrid last month.

His lone opportunity of the set indeed vanished.

Seemingly cruising to victory, that's when Nadal called for the trainer.

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