The two best clay-court players over the past two years — Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem — will square off in Sunday’s Roland Garros final with the former going for an 11th title in Paris and 17th Grand Slam trophy and the latter chasing a maiden major success.
The Nadal-Thiem rivalry is one that has only existed on clay, with the Spaniard edging their head-to-head 6-3.
Last season, they faced off four times on the red dirt, with Thiem pulling off the upset in the Rome quarter-finals and Nadal triumphing in all other three encounters.
This year, it’s their third clash on the surface and they enter Sunday’s final tied at 1-1 in 2018.
If Nadal will ever pass the clay baton onto someone, Thiem is the obvious and likely heir-apparent.
Here’s a look at all the numbers ahead of the final…
1 – Nadal will retain his No. 1 ranking if he wins on Sunday. If he loses, Roger Federer will replace him at the top.
1 – Thiem is the only player to defeat Nadal on clay before Roland Garros in the past two seasons.
2 – titles won by Thiem this season — in Buenos Aires and Lyon.
2 – Thiem is bidding to become the second Austrian — man or woman — to win a Grand Slam title, behind Thomas Muster.
2 – victories for Thiem against a reigning world No. 1. He’ll try to get his third on Sunday.
3 – titles won by Nadal so far this season — in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.
3 – Thiem is one of only three players — alongside Novak Djokovic and Gaston Gaudio — to have defeated Nadal on clay on three or more occasions.
7 – If Nadal wins the final, the last seven Grand Slam titles will have been won by players aged 30 or older. The last player aged younger than 30 to win a major title was Murray (aged 29 years 56 days) at Wimbledon 2016.
7 – Thiem will be ranked No. 7 in the world on Monday. His career-high is No. 4.
9 – Having defeated No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals, Thiem could become just the ninth man in the Open Era to beat both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds at a Grand Slam – and just the fourth man to achieve the feat at Roland Garros.
10 – Thiem is on a 10-match winning streak heading into Sunday’s final, having won the title in Lyon before the start of Roland Garros.
11 – Nadal is bidding to become only the second player in history to win 11 singles titles at any Grand Slam after Margaret Court, who won the Australian Open singles title on 11 occasions.
11 – Nadal is bidding to become the first player in the Open Era to win 11 titles at three different tour-level events (has already won 11 times in Barcelona and Monte Carlo).
11 – Nadal is on an 11-match winning streak entering Sunday’s final, having picked up the trophy in Rome in his last event before Roland Garros.
16 – wins and seven losses for Nadal in Grand Slam finals throughout his career.
24 – Aged 24 years 280 days, Thiem is bidding to become the youngest Roland Garros champion since Nadal won the title here in 2010. Thiem is also bidding to become the youngest Grand Slam champion since Djokovic (24 years 252 days) won the 2012 Australian Open.
26 – match wins on clay for Thiem this season, a tour-leading tally. Nadal could match him if he wins on Sunday.
35 – victories for Thiem this season, the most won by any player on the men’s tour.
56 – Nadal owns a record 56 career clay-court titles.
109 – of Thiem’s 206 tour-level victories have come on clay.
110 – match wins and just 2 losses for Nadal in best-of-five matches on clay.
178 – km/hr is the average speed of Nadal’s first serve at Roland Garros this fortnight. The fastest serve he clocked this tournament was 200km/hr.
181 – km/hr is the average speed of Thiem’s first serve at Roland Garros this fortnight. The fastest serve he clocked this tournament was 224km/hr.
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