Rafael Nadal vs Domiic Thiem: 2016 French Open Showdown Brewing

Rafael Nadal vs Domiic Thiem: 2016 French Open Showdown Brewing

Rafael Nadal vs Domiic Thiem 2016 French Open Showdown Brewing tennis images

Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem are both into the third round of the 2016 French Open following victories in the second round on Thursday. That puts the two players, who are each on the shortlist of French Open favorites, one round away from what would be a major middle-round clash between the two. Nadal is the most successful player from Roland Garros ever while Thiem is very much the bright light among a newer crop of talented players emerging.

The Austrian claims three titles from the 2016 season alone, including two on the clay-court surface. He has one win over Nadal this season as well, and recently Thiem defeated Roger Federer at the Rome Masters. In Paris so far, Thiem is through to the third round through both Inigo Cervantes and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

dominic thiem gearing up for rafael nadal french open

In order for a Nadal-Thiem match-up to take place only a couple of events need to be settled. Firstly, Thiem will need to beat either Stephane Robert or Alexander Zverev in the third round. Robert is a veteran on tour not known for big upsets while Thiem handled Zverev well in the ATP Nice final last week. By most measures, Thiem does, in fact, look as though he will make the fourth round. Nadal, in order to join him, will need to defeat either Nicolas Mahut or Marcel Granollers in the third round, something the Spaniard should have no trouble doing.

A Thiem-Nadal fourth-round match at Roland Garros could be a changing-of-the-guard kind of match. If Thiem can get through to the quarters, then it would consolidate the prevailing opinion of him, one that I share, that he is the next generation’s best player. However, Nadal is hardly over the hill, and he’ll be looking to make the Austrian wait as long as possible before he starts taking up spots in the late rounds of big tournaments. Right now, a knock against Thiem is that it’s the smaller events that he is generally doing well in.


Both Nadal and Thiem share a draw to the final with Novak Djokovic, who, at the time of writing, was almost through with Steve Darcis in the second round. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Goffin, and Tomas Berdych are also on the top half of the draw, however at this point the projected semifinal really looks like there’s three players, Thiem, Nadal, and Djokovic, looking to fit into two spots.

In truth, Djokovic has an easy draw at this year’s French as he doesn’t have anyone like Thiem to tussle with ahead of the semifinals. Berdych, the highest seed besides Djokovic in the top quarter, can’t be considered a threat to the Serb based on the 2-23 heads up record.

Look for Thiem, Nadal, and Djokovic to play their third round matches this weekend. However, don’t expect much competitiveness in those matches as these guys are in a class of their own in the top half of the draw.


Shane is a sports writer with a big interest in tennis, but he's also a noted writer about travel and fiction. Plus he can handle long walks in the cold Canadian tundra!

More in Sports

Maria Sharapova Was Suspended in a Man's World 2017 images

Maria Sharapova Was Suspended in a Man’s World

Shane LambertApril 25, 2017
jabrill peppers sees draft stock drop after positive drug test 2017 images

Jabrill Peppers sees draft stock drop after positive drug test

Chris MauriceApril 25, 2017
aaron hernandez saga ends with funeral 2017 images

Aaron Hernandez saga ends with funeral

Luka AlarioApril 24, 2017
Rockets Patrick Beverley wants more NBA control over fans 2017 images

Rockets Patrick Beverley wants more NBA control over fans

Chris MauriceApril 24, 2017
stanley cup playoffs 2017 images

2017 Stanley Cup NHL Playoffs – Second-round preview predictions

Shane LambertApril 24, 2017
novak djokovic monte carlo loss starts slide 2017

Novak Djokovic Set Up for Ranking Slide After Monte Carlo Loss

Shane LambertApril 23, 2017
andy murray and stan wawrinka get outed at monte carlo masters

Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka crash out of 2017 Monte-Carlo Masters

Shane LambertApril 21, 2017
anaheim ducks have an edge nhl 2017

Anaheim Ducks have huge edge over San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers

Shane LambertApril 20, 2017
aaron hernandez made it hard to feel bad for his suicide attempt in prison

It’s Hard to Feel Bad for Aaron Hernandez

Chris MauriceApril 20, 2017

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

You will only receive one per day. You'll also get a free THE WALKING DEAD graphic novel with your subscription