June 8, 2019 / 5:20 PM / 3 months ago

Tennis-Adrenaline-fuelled Thiem ready for Rafa

PARIS, June 8 (Reuters) - Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem says he will be fuelled by adrenaline when he takes on Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s French Open final in what will be his fourth successive day on court.

The 25-year-old battled Novak Djokovic over two weather-ravaged days on Friday and Saturday to set up a repeat of last year’s final which he lost in straight sets.

He also played on Thursday while Spaniard Nadal played only on Tuesday and Friday and was able to put his feet up while Thiem slugged his way past Djokovic.

Despite getting the rough side of the schedule, however, Thiem says fatigue will not be a factor as he attempts to claim his first Grand Slam title.

“I feel good. Luckily I didn’t have so many long matches before today,” Thiem, who trails Nadal 8-4 on head-to-head record but beat him, on clay, in Barcelona this year, told reporters after his 6-2 3-6 7-5 5-7 7-5 win over Djokovic.

“Today and yesterday, of course, was tough. It’s probably a little bit more difficult to play these four hours with all the interruption than if you played in one time.

“But still, I’m feeling fine. I’m full of adrenaline, of course, still from today’s match, and also I will have that tomorrow. So I’m not going to be tired.”

Thiem said he would “leave everything he has out on court” to try and stop 11-times French Open champion Nadal, but added a dose of realism as he looked ahead to probably the toughest task there has even been in tennis.

Asked why he can join Robin Soderling and Djokovic as the only men to get the better of Nadal at Roland Garros since the Spaniard won his first title in 2005, Thiem said: “I don’t know yet, because I never beat him here on this court.

“But still, I had some very good matches in the past against him on clay, and I also beat him on clay already.

“It’s important that I go into the match with the belief. Of course it’s big dream for me to win that match tomorrow, to win this title.

“But I also have in my head that if it’s not happening tomorrow, which can happen easy because of the opponent on the other side of the net, I don’t put too much pressure on myself.”

The Austrian, nicknamed back home the Thieminator, is bidding to become Austria’s first Grand Slam champion since Thomas Muster at the French Open in 1995.

Thiem’s coach Nicolas Massu said his man will be flying after beating world number one Djokovic.

“It was an amazing match, amazing feeling,” Massu said. “I think that tomorrow he’s looking forward to showing his best.

“So it’s a beautiful challenge for him as a player and for me as a coach. The most important thing is for him to recover physically and to play the way he wants with the cards he has in hands.” (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)

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