After losing the last two Roland Garros finals against longtime clay monster Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem is hoping to someday be third time lucky in Paris if he faces the Spaniard again.
The third-ranked Austrian won their last meeting in January’s Australian Open quarter-final a month before tennis was shut down due to the COVID-19 virus crisis.
But with the French Open now tentatively set to start in late September instead of its traditional May-June dates, Thiem is hoping that all can fall into place for a third consecutive final between himself and the world No. 2.
Nadal, with 13 Paris trophies and just two defeats from 96 matches played at the clay-court major, remains an almost superhuman opponent on the surface.
“I did believe in it,” he said of his victory dream in a Eurosport interview.
“Maybe last year was the first time I really believed in it 100 per cent; it was my fourth time to play him (there).
The first three times, there was a little doubt always in the back of my head.
Taking the second set from Nadal last June in the final may have changed something for the 26-year-old Thiem.
“The first two sets were maybe was the best clay-court tennis I ever played. Rafa had a very very good day in the final because he was playing amazingly.
“I gave everything I had there must be a reason why won the tournament 12 times.
“In the end, I had to accept it. Hopefully, I’ll get another chance maybe later this year or the next year.”
He admitted that taking on Nadal on clay requires a massive mental and physical effort.
“I step on the court knowing I have to fight for every single point for the next three, four, five hours. I have to be on my absolute limit – physically, mentally.
“It’s not a nice night before and it’s not nice (in the) hours before you step on the court.
“It’s always in the back of your mind is that he only lost two matches there and won 12 titles.”