Rafael Nadal says he will have to â€œplay his bestâ€ to beat Dominic Thiem in todayâ€™s French Open final and secure an 11th Roland Garros title. Nadal, 32, has won a record 10 titles in Paris and has lost only twice at the tournament since his debut in 2005. The Spaniard has been beaten just twice on clay in the past two seasons and both defeats have come against Thiem. â€œI have a very difficult match against a player that is playing great,â€ 16-time Grand Slam winner Nadal said. â€œI know I have to play my best if I want to have chances. Sunday (today) is the day to give my best, is the day to increase even a little bit more the level.â€
Thiem, who will be competing in his first Grand Slam final, beat Nadal at last yearâ€™s Italian Open and won the pairâ€™s most recent meeting at the Madrid Open last month. He also beat the Spaniard in Buenos Aires in 2016.
All of the Austrianâ€™s victories over Nadal have come in three-set matches, while the world number one has beaten Thiem twice in best-of-five-set matches at Roland Garros, including a straight-set victory in the semi-finals of last yearâ€™s tournament.
However, the world number eight says he â€œhas a planâ€ to beat Nadal. â€œIf I want to beat him, I have to play that way like I did in Rome and in Madrid,â€ Thiem said. â€œI know how to play against him. I have a plan. â€œBut Iâ€™m also aware that here itâ€™s tougher. He likes the conditions more here than in Madrid, for sure. Best of five is also different story.â€