“In my opinion, to play Rafa here on the Chatrier court, it's still the toughest challenge,” two-time Roland-Garros finalist Dominic Thiem told reporters on Friday.
Thiem, a massive sports fan himself, admits he’s never seen anything quite like the King of Clay rampaging inside of Court Philippe-Chatrier.
“I guess also outside of tennis, it's probably one of the most difficult things ever, in sports in general, to beat him here on this court. His 102 matches are incredible, and one of the biggest achievements ever in sport.”
His biggest rival sees it similarly. Top-seeded Djokovic, the 2016 Roland-Garros champion, has had more success than any player against Nadal on clay, and hopes to challenge him this year for the title, but after falling to Nadal in last year’s final, he could only praise the Spaniard.
“No holding him back it seems like. It's amazing,” he said in Paris last autumn. “I mean, he lost two times in his entire career. Winning 13 times, there's not much you can say. All the superlatives you can use, he deserves them.”