Rafael Nadal loses title to Dominic Thiem

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Between 2005-2018, Rafael Nadal was the dominant figure at the ATP 500 event in Barcelona. The home star won 61 out of 64 matches and conquered 11 titles from 14 appearances! That all changed in 2019 when Nadal failed to lift the trophy, losing in the semi-final and struggling a bit on his beloved surface.

Fabio Fognini took the Spaniard down in Monte Carlo after a poor performance from the Spaniard. Dominic Thiem left Rafa empty-handed in Barcelona following a 6-4, 6-4 triumph in two hours and four minutes for a place in his second final at this event.

Struggling with injuries in the season’s opening three months, Nadal kicked off the clay swing with high hopes. However, he was yet to show his well-known masterclass at his favorite tournaments, lacking speed and depth and competing miles behind the level from 2017 and 2018.

Thiem was one of only four players with three victories over Rafa on clay before this encounter.

Dominic Thiem ousted Rafael Nadal in Barcelona 2019.

With his Barcelona triumph, he passed Fabio Fognini and Gaston Gaudio and became only the second competitor after Novak Djokovic with four ATP wins against Nadal on dirt.

Rafa had never lost after reaching the quarter-final in Barcelona before. Still, he stood no chance in this clash. The homer favorite never created a break chance before the encounter’s last game (it could have been his fourth ATP match on clay without break opportunities, the first since 2003) and suffered two breaks to push Thiem into the final.

Two years earlier, the Austrian claimed only five games against Rafa in the Barcelona title match. We saw an utterly different encounter this time, with the younger player having the edge on both serve and return to bring the triumph home in straight sets.

Dominic defended his backhand wing on the return and crushed Rafa with deep and powerful groundstrokes that left an 11-time champion with no answer. Lacking the free points from the initial shot despite the fact he landed 75% of the first serve in, Nadal had to work hard all the time.

He had no energy to overpower the opponent, who did everything right from start to finish. Charging in his service games in the opener, Dominic gave away only six points. He kept the pressure on Nadal and opened a 3-2 advantage after Rafa’s costly double fault.

The Austrian secured the first set with a forehand winner at 5-4 in just under an hour. Like in the first set, Dominic earned a break in the second set’s fifth game. He gained an even more significant boost and thundered toward the finish line while serving for a peerless triumph at 5-4.

Suddenly, Nadal created three break chances that could have kept him in the encounter for a bit more. Thiem was not to be denied, though, staying focused to save them and clinch five straight points for a place in the final, where he would battle against Daniil Medvedev.

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