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Who could oust Nadal at RG 2020?

  • Thiem

    Votes: 20 60.6%
  • Djokovic

    Votes: 11 33.3%
  • Tsitsipas

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Zverev

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Federer

    Votes: 1 3.0%
  • Medvedev

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Wawrinka

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 1 3.0%

  • Total voters
    33
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I don't know Medvedev's being dissed on clay. Obviously it's not his best surface, but he did beat Djokovic, Tsitsipas, and Nishikori on clay last year (before he went on a great run in the 2nd half of the year).

He's obviously not at the level of Thiem/Djokovic but to dismiss him as a complete clay mug is stupid. He's on the level of the 2nd tier contenders along with Tsitipas, Wawrinka, and Zverev.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Do some of y'all really think a guy with that kind of one-handed backhand is going to be a threat to Nadal at RG of all places.. a Bo5 on clay? Thiem has only won one set in three RG tries against Nadal. Here are the sets: 6-3, 6-4, 6-0, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1

Most of them haven't even been close. Thiem is no threat to Nadal, whereas Novak can beat him and likely will, given the mental edge he has over Nadal currently.
Novak’s in Nadal’s head but it is Nadal’s home and he’s a creature of habit. The seasonality is going to decrease Nadal’s edge though.
I think Thiem is on a tear though and I know he has the wherewithal to beat him on clay. If he is in form he could beat Rafa.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
I don't know Medvedev's being dissed on clay. Obviously it's not his best surface, but he did beat Djokovic, Tsitsipas, and Nishikori on clay last year (before he went on a great run in the 2nd half of the year).

He's obviously not at the level of Thiem/Djokovic but to dismiss him as a complete clay mug is stupid. He's on the level of the 2nd tier contenders along with Tsitipas, Wawrinka, and Zverev.
yeah I didn’t know. I’ve just learned to not underestimate the guy.
 

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Thiem can't because he wouldn't be able to sustain what's necessary over a best of 5. The only one who can beat Nadal at RG is Novak. Also, Novak beat him in straights in 2015 and only a net touch saved Nadal in 2013. Novak has a big mental advantage over Nadal currently. Let's see what happens ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Thiem can't because he wouldn't be able to sustain what's necessary over a best of 5. The only one who can beat Nadal at RG is Novak. Also, Novak beat him in straights in 2015 and only a net touch saved Nadal in 2013. Novak has a big mental advantage over Nadal currently. Let's see what happens ;)
oh the mental advantage is there, it’s just a little more opaque at RG. Thiem can most definitely outlast Rafa. He’s sort of a Stanimal.
 

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It's really close between Djokovic and Thiem. This question has come up before, and I've always thought that Djokovic was the biggest threat. For the first time, though, I'm picking Thiem. I'm not sure of it, but I'm slightly leaning in that direction.

Thiem has really entered the prime of his career. He almost beat Djokovic in Australia, which would've been unthinkable as recently as last year - this shows you the huge improvement he's made. He's been quite active during the Covid break and playing impressively. He also hits with a tremendous amount of power on both sides, which is critical to keep the pressure on Nadal and prevent him from dictating with his forehand. Thiem is also simply hungrier than Djokovic, as he's come close but is yet to win a Grand Slam, and he'll desperately want to to do it against the only man who stood between him and the trophy for the last three years in a row.

But it's really close. Djokovic is obviously... Djokovic, so he's kind of good. He knows how to beat Nadal more than anyone and has come the closest of all players to beating a good version of Nadal at Roland Garros. Like many others here, I also feel that Djokovic is in Nadal's head, and if the match gets tight, Nadal may get nervous and make mistakes.
 

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Thiem can't because he wouldn't be able to sustain what's necessary over a best of 5. The only one who can beat Nadal at RG is Novak. Also, Novak beat him in straights in 2015 and only a net touch saved Nadal in 2013. Novak has a big mental advantage over Nadal currently. Let's see what happens ;)
That controversial incident which is literally never called stunned Novak at a pivotal point really changing the complexion of the match & later i wondered how much the infamous Tio Toni bribed those lines officials & umpire.
 

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Last year, just before RG, I said Thiem is the second best player at RG in the recent past, and that he would beat Djokovic if they faced at RG. A plenty of Noletards denied it and bad-mouthed me. Well, it happened, Djokovic faced Thiem at RG in the next few days, and Thiem won, despite Djokovic stopping the play when Theim was leading in the RG SF match citing external factors and resuming the match the next day (and eventually losing it).

Thiem beat Rafa on clay four years (2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019) in a row, while Djokovic did not beat Rafa on clay since 2016, although Djokovic faced Rafa on clay in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Thiem has had better results than Djokovic at RG, since 2017.
Thiem.... - SF, F, F
Djokovic - QF, QF, SF

Further, as I stated earlier, Thiem is in the thick of his playing career and has improved as a player. He beat Rafa first time on hard court at this year's Australian Open and almost beat Djokovic at his favorite and best grand slam.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Last year, just before RG, I said Thiem is the second best player at RG in the recent past, and that he would beat Djokovic if they faced at RG. A plenty of Noletards denied it and bad-mouthed me. Well, it happened, Djokovic faced Thiem at RG in the next few days, and Thiem won, despite Djokovic stopping the play when Theim was leading in the RG SF match citing external factors and resuming the match the next day (and eventually losing it).

Thiem beat Rafa on clay four years (2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019) in a row, while Djokovic did not beat Rafa on clay since 2016, although Djokovic faced Rafa on clay in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Thiem has had better results than Djokovic at RG, since 2017.
Thiem.... - SF, F, F
Djokovic - QF, QF, SF
Yeah, there’s no doubt Thiem is extremely dangerous on clay. As a Rafa fan I would prefer to see him play Nole in the final.
 

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Yeah, there’s no doubt Thiem is extremely dangerous on clay. As a Rafa fan I would prefer to see him play Nole in the final.
Yeah, folks wished for Rafa-Wawrinka RG final, and we saw how that turned out in 2017. Rafa took two past RG champions, Wawrinka and Federer, to the cleaners in straight sets in the recent past. People don't know and realize what they are wishing for.
 

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The previous Wawa/Murray brutal SF was the match that put them both on the shelf & probably shortened their careers. One reason why Clay can b a different beast lacking the finesse aspect brought out by other surfaces.
 

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I maintain that Nadal withdrawing/retiring due to injury or overcast, damp weather he has to play an entire match through are likelier to fell him than any player.

But in all seriousness, Nadal's patterns, movement, and returning on clay make his demise likely to be to someone's game hitting perfectly on all cylinders (NOTE: not redlining) for the better part of 4 hours...remains the most difficult task in tennis. There's only one emerging possibility to me and that's Dominic Thiem. Dominic's ball bashing has been tamed by working with Nicolas Massu and his natural, aggressive topspin baseline ground strokes have been supplemented with incremental gains in his defensive, shot rally tolerance and better returning. He has a devilish slice backhand from multiple angles, which was lethal against and befuddled Novak in last year's hurricane winds, but he needs to be more selective with that play against Nadal who steps into the court and feasts on slice backhands routinely. At last, he's tasted victory over Nadal at a Grand Slam so that will provide him a needed mental boost, but we all know Roland Garros and Philippe Chatrier is a different animal. All that being said, Nadal's never lost to a one handed backhand on clay in BO5 and I won't believe it until I see it happen.

I'm not dismissing Djokovic's chances and he's rightly installed as second favorite before the draw, but he's a few years removed from his prime on the surface (albeit, he's easily 3rd best in the world). Clay has never rewarded him as much for taking the ball earlier on his backhand against Nadal, and he doesn't have the aggressive topspin ground strokes on clay to consistently dictate and finish against Nadal and Thiem in rallies (seems to get lost trading and looks to draw errors). Nadal and Djokovic are two of the all-time greats and playing on clay, Rafa's advantages get slightly exaggerated and his weaknesses get slightly mitigated and the opposite for Djokovic.

Tennis seems to follow those arcs where a player keeps attempting until he finally reaches the summit. Thiem's quest for Roland Garros is certainly on that ascent, but it's one massive, bleeping mountain because of Nadal.
 

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Thiem has really entered the prime of his career. He almost beat Djokovic in Australia, which would've been unthinkable as recently as last year - this shows you the huge improvement he's made. He's been quite active during the Covid break and playing impressively. He also hits with a tremendous amount of power on both sides, which is critical to keep the pressure on Nadal and prevent him from dictating with his forehand. Thiem is also simply hungrier than Djokovic, as he's come close but is yet to win a Grand Slam, and he'll desperately want to to do it against the only man who stood between him and the trophy for the last three years in a row.
To add, Thiem actually beat Djokovic at ATP Finals at the end of last year, the event Djokovic won 5 times. Plus, he beat Rafa for the first time on hard court at 2020 Australian Open and almost beat Djokovic there.

I see Thiem as the potential next new grand slam winner ahead of Tsitsipas, Medvedev, and Zverev; he can have chances to win a grand slam at AO, RG, and USO.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
I maintain that Nadal withdrawing/retiring due to injury or overcast, damp weather he has to play an entire match through are likelier to fell him than any player.

But in all seriousness, Nadal's patterns, movement, and returning on clay make his demise likely to be to someone's game hitting perfectly on all cylinders (NOTE: not redlining) for the better part of 4 hours...remains the most difficult task in tennis. There's only one emerging possibility to me and that's Dominic Thiem. Dominic's ball bashing has been tamed by working with Nicolas Massu and his natural, aggressive topspin baseline ground strokes have been supplemented with incremental gains in his defensive, shot rally tolerance and better returning. He has a devilish slice backhand from multiple angles, which was lethal against and befuddled Novak in last year's hurricane winds, but he needs to be more selective with that play against Nadal who steps into the court and feasts on slice backhands routinely. At last, he's tasted victory over Nadal at a Grand Slam so that will provide him a needed mental boost, but we all know Roland Garros and Philippe Chatrier is a different animal. All that being said, Nadal's never lost to a one handed backhand on clay in BO5 and I won't believe it until I see it happen.

I'm not dismissing Djokovic's chances and he's rightly installed as second favorite before the draw, but he's a few years removed from his prime on the surface (albeit, he's easily 3rd best in the world). Clay has never rewarded him as much for taking the ball earlier on his backhand against Nadal, and he doesn't have the aggressive topspin ground strokes on clay to consistently dictate and finish against Nadal and Thiem in rallies (seems to get lost trading and looks to draw errors). Nadal and Djokovic are two of the all-time greats and playing on clay, Rafa's advantages get slightly exaggerated and his weaknesses get slightly mitigated and the opposite for Djokovic.

Tennis seems to follow those arcs where a player keeps attempting until he finally reaches the summit. Thiem's quest for Roland Garros is certainly on that ascent, but it's one massive, bleeping mountain because of Nadal.
wonderful reply. so well written.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
To add, Thiem actually beat Djokovic at ATP Finals at the end of last year, the event Djokovic won 5 times. Plus, he beat Rafa for the first time on hard court at 2020 Australian Open and almost beat Djokovic there.

I see Thiem as the potential next new grand slam winner ahead of Tsitsipas, Medvedev, and Zverev; he can have chances to win a grand slam at AO, RG, and USO.
all very relevant in thinking Thiem might be the greater danger.
 

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Plus the ROS that helps him on all other surfaces is neutralised to a greater degree on the grinding red dirt for the Serb.
 

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Do some of y'all really think a guy with that kind of one-handed backhand is going to be a threat to Nadal at RG of all places.. a Bo5 on clay? Thiem has only won one set in three RG tries against Nadal. Here are the sets: 6-3, 6-4, 6-0, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1

Most of them haven't even been close. Thiem is no threat to Nadal, whereas Novak can beat him and likely will, given the mental edge he has over Nadal currently.
Good post. Thiem averages no more than 2,63 games per set against eventual RG winner. He is very average. Prefer to have someone like Querrey going against them. The 2,63 is just too weak number - as he gets older we can expect that number to drop to 1,6ish.
 

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Thiem. He's beaten Nadal in 2017 Rome, 2018 Madrid and 2019 Barcelona. 3/5 is different story at RG, but I think if anyone can do it it is Thiem. Thiem can ball blast on clay and beat Rafa.

Novak won't be able to out Rafa clay on clay.
 
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