After producing a heroic performance to down world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the Austrian has to return to court just a day later in order to tackle the biggest test in tennis.
While Thiem scrapped through his four hours and 13 minutes match across two days, Nadal could put his feet up on and relax on Saturday. No doubt he was rubbing his hands with glee at the manner in which Thiem and Djokovic hit chunks out of each other, it seems highly unlikely that the world No. 4 will be at his physical peak come Sunday’s final. Thiem, however, was quick to brush that suggestion off. ‘I feel good,’ he said after his 6-2 3-6 7-5 5-7 7-5 win over 15-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic. ‘Luckily I didn’t have so many long matches before today. And 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. It’s all going to come after the tournament. ‘So I’m ready to leave all or everything what I have out on the court tomorrow.’ The challenge lying ahead of him is far greater than simply just a physical test; Thiem must mentally reload after a draining win.
It was a performance worthy of landing a first Grand Slam title, but the Austrian will leave empty handed should he fail to bring his A-game against Nadal on Sunday. As he alluded to ahead of his meeting with Djokovic, it’s no straightforward task to beat two men who have amassed 32 Slams between them back-to-back. ‘I mean, it’s incredibly difficult to win a Grand Slam,’ he said. ‘Because especially for us players who didn’t have one yet, because if everything goes quite normal, we have to beat two players with 15 or more Grand Slams. So I think everybody can imagine how difficult this is.