The Spaniard continued his extraordinary domination at Roland Garros with a ruthless 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory.
The younger challengers struggle to land a punch, and the last six men's Grand Slam titles have now gone in the sequence of Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal. Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray - the so-called Big Four - have dominated the men's game to such a degree that Thiem is only the second player now younger than 28 to have reached a major singles final. He dropped serve in the third and Nadal held for 3-1 after taking a time out because of a sore hand.
Nadal's Barcelona Open semifinal win over David Goffin was his 400th tour-level clay-court match win, making him the fourth man in the Open Era to win 400 matches on clay, after Vilas (659), Manuel Orantes (502) and Muster (422). In Madrid, Thiem said the key was to be positive against Nadal. He saved two of a mere three break points. Thiem makes his second double fault in the game.
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But against Thiem, there was nothing wrong with Nadal's start.
His lead was reminiscent of their semifinal at the French Open past year, when Nadal also held the early advantage.
Thiem was still on the back foot in the third set, being forced to save four break points in the first game.
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A trainer was called and he briefly inspected Nadal's left wrist. The Austrian has improved on the return serves here to equalise the game. Nadal -5.5 games is available on the Exchange at [1.68] and given the fact that Nadal has tended to dominate Thiem on non-quick clay, this should be a very likely outcome if Nadal wins the final.
The top-seeded Nadal enters Sunday with a 10-0 record in title matches at Roland Garros and an overall career mark of 85-2 at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament. There is a slight chance of rain, but not until later in the afternoon after 5pm.
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