Dominic Thiem remembers Rafael Nadal as being “too strong.”

Following heart-stopping victories over Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem won the 2020 US Open after losing the first three Major finals. Recalling the 2018 Roland Garros final, where Rafael Nadal defeated him, Thiem acknowledged that matchup as one of his career’s most difficult obstacles.

The youthful Austrian beat Novak Djokovic in the semifinal match to go to the championship match in Paris. For Dominic, it was an impossible task as Rafa won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 to successfully defend his title in two hours and forty-three minutes.

Rafa won his 17th Major title and 11th Roland Garros victory in 14 visits, trailing Roger Federer by three. In 2017 and 2018, only Thiem was able to defeat Rafa on clay. On the biggest stage, he was unable to keep up with Nadal‘s speed and compete for his first Major trophy, failing to pull off another upset.

Rafael Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem in his first Major final in Paris in 2018.

The Spaniard was unflappable in his games and served at a 68% rate. In the entire match, he faced just three break points, lost service only once, and dominated the first serve while keeping the second safe.

Nadal controlled the pace and drove Thiem to take chances with his strokes and lines, which resulted in over 40 unforced errors. Nadal had more wins than unforced errors. In the most significant match of his career, Dominic served below 60% and had to play against 17 break chances, adding to the strain on him.

Nadal succeeded on five of them, which was enough to win the match in straight sets. From the baseline, the Spaniard had the advantage and was able to find an area where he could unleash his steady and controlled groundstrokes. The following year, the same opponents would square off in the Paris championship, with Nadal extending his lead by winning again.

“I have to admit that Rafael Nadal was too good for me in my maiden Major final. We all know what Rafa is capable of in Paris, so that game represents perhaps my biggest challenge in my career “said Dominic Thiem.