Following its indefinite suspension, due to the global coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, the tennis tour is finally back underway, and two major tournaments are just around the corner! That’s right, despite multiple tournaments being cancelled, including Wimbledon – which was put on hold for the first time since World War II – the US Open in New York, and the French Open in Paris are still going ahead – albeit behind schedule.
The 140th edition of the US Open will get underway – behind closed doors – at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre on August 31st with the final taking place just under two weeks later, on September 13th.
Then, just a fortnight later, it’ll be time for the French Open – meaning that players may have to choose between the two Grand Slams, due to the proximity of the events, and coronavirus rules, such as quarantine.
Rafael Nadal, who is the odds-on favourite in the betting on the tennis French Open, was one of those players with a difficult decision to make, as he is the current holder of both Grand Slams in question. However, the 34-year-old announced that has withdrawn from this year’s tournament, and it looks likely that we will see the 12-time winner in Paris – which will also be the pilot for a return of fans to the sport.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at last year’s final!
It was a repeat of the 2018 decider as Nadal, who didn’t drop a set en route to the final, went head-to-head with current World Number Three Dominic Thiem, who had just come off the back of a mammoth five-set match against Novak Djokovic – which was delayed due to rain.
In contrast, the Spaniard had an extra days rest after seeing off fierce rival Roger Federer, in three straight sets – 3-6, 4-6, 2-6.
Thiem, who had just beaten Nadal in the semi-final of the Barcelona Open, looked to have gotten off to the better start, breaking the 19-time Grand Slam winner in the fifth game of the first set. However, the ‘King of Clay’ thought back, breaking the Austrian twice, winning the first set 6-3 after a torrid 53 minutes.
The pair matched each other game-for-game in the second set, until the 26-year-old finally broke Nadal to win the second set 7-5 – the first set that Thiem had won against the Spaniard in four outings at the French Grand Slam.
However, the Austrian failed to build on his triumph, and Nadal raced into a 4-0 lead in the third set. Whilst Thiem did manage to win a game, it turned out to be nothing but a consolation, as the Mallorcan won the set easily 6-1.
With Nadal now just one set from a whopping 12th victory at Roland Garros, Thiemhad the opportunity to break the Spaniard in the first game. However, the veteran showed his experience and managed to win the game, before breaking his counterpart in the next, and holding onto his own serve in the third to make it 3-0.
Thiem did manage to pull it back to 3-1 by winning his next service game, but it was too little too late, as Nadal went on to hold his serve before breaking again. The 34-year-old then wrapped up the victory on his own serve, winning the final set 6-1.
“I can’t explain the emotion at holding the trophy a 12th time. I hope to return next year,” Nadal said afterwards.
With Thiem making a name for himself on the clay, will we see him go back up against Nadal in the final for the third time in a row this year? We’ll just have to wait and see!