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.

Click to add a comment

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

serena williams digs deep to hit australian open quarter finals 2017 images

Serena Williams digs deep to hit Australian Open quarter finals

Jackie WarnerJanuary 22, 2017
super bowl 51 tom bradys patriots vs matt ryans falcons 2017 images

Super Bowl 51: Tom Brady’s Patriots vs Matt Ryan’s Falcons

Jackie WarnerJanuary 22, 2017
tom brady takes patriots to super bowl 51 36 17 2017 images

Tom Brady takes Patriots to Super Bowl 51 36-17

Luka AlarioJanuary 22, 2017
falcons take over packers 44 21 now ready for patriots 2017 images

Falcons take over Packers 44-21, now ready for Patriots

Luka AlarioJanuary 22, 2017
andy murray and angelique kerber knocked out 2017 australian open images

Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber knocking out: 2017 Australian Open

Luka AlarioJanuary 22, 2017
andy murray kei nishikori out of 2017 australian open images

Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori out of 2017 Australian Open

Shane LambertJanuary 22, 2017
nfl wants chargers to stay in san diego 2017 images

NFL wants Chargers to stay in San Diego

Chris MauriceJanuary 21, 2017
Doug Adler, Venus Williams and the 2017 Australian Open controversy images

Doug Adler, Venus Williams and the 2017 Australian Open controversy

Shane LambertJanuary 21, 2017
NFL Playoffs when kickers really matter 2017 images

NFL Playoffs: When kickers really matter

Luka AlarioJanuary 21, 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