Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
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Rafa Nadal not ‘obsessed’ with Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slams

Rafa Nadal not ‘obsessed’ with Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slams

The Austrian is never one to hide his frustration, but then the sheer relentlessness of Nadal on clay would wear anyone down.

Sunday at the French Open sees Rafa Nadal and Dominic Thiem take to the courts in the men's singles final, and our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, is back to preview the encounter.

"Physically, I enjoyed (it) more watching him on the couch, " Thiem said with a smile.

While we have an edge here, I appreciate that backing a heavy odds-on shot isn't most people's cup of tea, so the game handicap should be a viable proposition. I had a long and mentally tough clay court season, of course, because I played nearly all the matches possible after coming from an injury.

But only so much of a thrill. What really matters for me is have this trophy again with me. I have passion for what I am doing. It was a final. "My preparation, I believe, previous year went well". "I gave everything I had, and I'm the loser of today".

An edgy Thiem won only one of the first eight points as Nadal, cheered to the rafters when he walked on court, bristled with intent.

"At this age I thought I'd be retired and be having a family", Nadal told Spanish sports newspaper Marca.

Despite her mostly consistent performances at the majors - she has made the quarter-finals or better at 11 of her last 18 Slams and seven of her last 11 - Halep has also been incredibly reliable throughout the year; which is why she is ranked No. 1 in the world. The Frenchman also has an ATP Finals and a Grand Slam mixed doubles title in his collection.

Nadal's incredible record in Paris now reads 86 wins and two defeats. Thiem, 24, is the only player to beat Nadal on clay in the past two years. Both losses came against Thiem.

Why? Nadal was 95-0 when capturing the opener on clay in the best of five format.

But once a competive first set went the way of the world number one, the plan became damage limitation and Nadal's "undecima" never looked in any doubt.

His picking at the rear of his shorts and mopping of his brow, aligned with his obsessive devotion to lining up his water bottles, are parts of the Nadal DNA.

"I was not able to move the hand, the finger", Nadal said. "And it was, for sure, not the turning point".

However, the exchange - with over £1.2 million traded on the match already - has Nadal as a [1.26] favourite, which is around a 6% difference in implied odds percentage and certainly enough to be actionable value.

"Not that I did that past year, but on grass margins are very slim and it's not so simple, especially when you haven't played for three months".

"Of course it's going to be easier, a little bit, because it's not going to be the first time anymore".

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