“Decent Player”: Dominic Thiem Jokes About Rafael Nadal During Madrid Open 2021 Practice

Published 05/04/2021, 5:30 AM EDT
Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem congratulate themselves at the end of the Men Final of the 2018 French Open – Day Fithteen at Roland Garros on June 10, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Rindoff Petroff/Suu/Getty Images)


Austrian tennis star Dominic Thiem is back refreshed and recharged after a seven-week spell on the sidelines and is happy to be in amongst his top rivals in the competitive arena again. 

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So much so that the current World No. 4 has shared a picture of himself watching ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal in practice ahead of launching his campaign at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Dominic Thiem lost back-to-back French Open finals to Rafael Nadal

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Thiem, who took a break from the Tour to heal some niggles that he had been carrying in matches and address concerns around his form that came in focus following a run of unflattering results, will make his competitive return in the Spanish capital.

The run of defeats and early exits saw him eventually drop out of the Top-3 in singles rankings.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 29: Dominic Thiem of Austria and Rafael Nadal of Spain embrace at the net following their Men’s Singles Quarterfinal match on day ten of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Austrian, who is no stranger to playing Nadal in tournament finals, finished runners-up in the 2017 edition in Madrid after losing to the 13-time French Open champion in straight sets.

The agony of failing to put it past the Spaniard in a championship clash extended to 2018 and 2019 editions at Roland-Garros as the reigning US Open champion went down to Nadal in back-to-back French Open finals.

Dominic Thiem’s goal this year is to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open

The bitter losses have taken nothing away from Thiem’s admiration for the champion, and a video that the ATP Twitter handle recently posted bears testimony to the same.

In the video, the Austrian, clad in a black, hooded sweatshirt and a pair of trousers, is seen watching the five-time Madrid champion in a sparring session from the sidelines. He can be heard laughingly saying, “Decent player.”

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Despite being out of action for seven weeks, Thiem remains focused on his primary goal for this year – to beat the ‘King of Clay’ at Roland-Garros.

Barring an upset, the two could even find themselves on the opposite ends of a tennis court in the Spanish capital. That would be the perfect test case of how much closer the Austrian has come to beating Nadal on clay before the action shifts to Roland-Garros.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

861 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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