Victory of the Week: Rafael Nadal Beats Dominic Thiem to Win 2019 French Open

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2019

Spain's Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Austria's Dominic Thiem during their men's singles final match, on day fifteen of The Roland Garros 2019 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 9, 2019. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

Victory of the Week is presented by Walmart.

Rafael Nadal added a 12th French Open title to his impressive resume on Sunday, beating Dominic Thiem in a rematch of last year's final. The set scores were 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.

Thiem gave the King of Clay a tough challenge, especially in the second set, but once Nadal pushed the tempo in the third, Thiem had no answers. 

Nadal has now won 18 Grand Slams, the second-highest total for a men's player. Only Roger Federer has more, with 20.

He came into this match having dominated his opponent on the Parisian clay:

Ricky Dimon @Dimonator

Nadal against Thiem lifetime at Roland Garros: 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0, 6-4, 6-3, 6-0

Thiem did win their most recent outing in Barcelona, however, and had reasons to believe he could spring the upset.

The Austrian started well, keeping pace with Nadal in the rallies and varying the length of his shots to keep his opponent off balance.

The two traded four games on serve before Thiem found the early breakthrough, hitting several excellent winners. Tennis writer George Bellshaw liked what he saw:

George Bellshaw @BellshawGeorge

Dominic Thiem breaks! Absolutely monstrous hitting from the Austrian world No. 5. Terrific start to this match.

Nadal immediately responded, however, winning the first three points of the next game and eventually breaking right back.

The Spaniard started to increase the pressure, and while Thiem did brilliantly in some of the rallies, the consistency of Nadal won out as the set wore on. He found another break in the eighth game, putting himself in a position to serve out the set.

Tennis fans and even fellow professionals couldn't believe how physical the contest was early:

Christopher Clarey @christophclarey

Honestly don't know how long Nadal and Thiem can keep this up but if you're not near a screen, get near one

Taylor Fritz @Taylor_Fritz97

This is a crazy high level of physicality..... Gonna be interesting to see how long Nadal and Thiem keep this level as this match goes on 🤯

The remarkably high standard continued in the second set, as fatigue didn't appear to be a factor for Thiem. The Austrian completed his semi-final win over Novak Djokovic on Saturday, and he needed five sets to do it.

But he hung in with the fresher Nadal before shocking the fans in attendance by breaking Nadal to take the second set 7-5:

Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg

Dominic Thiem wins the second set 7-5 over Nadal. Thiem is now the ONLY man currently under 30 years old to have won a set in a Grand Slam singles final. #RG19

But similar to the first set, Nadal bounced back from the setback in impressive fashion, winning 12 of the first 13 points in the third set and going up by a double break.

Nadal lost just one game in the set, putting him on the brink of a 12th French Open triumph.

The 33-year-old pushed his momentum into the fourth set as well, grabbing another early break. Thiem kept battling, earning praise from sportswriter Matt Zemek:

Matt Zemek @mzemek

The scoreline might not reflect it, and the unfortunately low amount of value sports culture places on finishing 2nd might not reflect it either, but: Dominic Thiem has competed well today. He always competes well. He competes better each year on tour. That must be noted.

But he made no inroads on Nadal's serve, and when he dropped a second serve game of his own, the match was all but over. Nadal served out the contest with ease, winning his 12th French Open.