Rafael Nadal will be looking to win his second title of the year and his tenth at Barcelona when he takes on Austrian Dominic Thiem in the final of the 2017 Barcelona Open. Nadal has been in outstanding form in 2017 and despite winning only one title as of now, the Spaniard has reached the final of four tournaments this year.
Prior to the start of the clay court season, Nadal said that he wanted to win a few titles during the clay court season and also possibly break into the top four again. Nadal is currently ranked no.5 in the world but should he defeat Thiem at the Barcelona Open and continue his impressive form for the rest of the year he can certainly do it.
Also the fact that Roger Federer is set to miss most of the clay court tournaments except the French Open and with Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic not yet back to their best, Nadal has a real chance to gain some valuable ATP points in the coming tournaments.
Nadal was superb in every match leading up to this final against Thiem and has not yet dropped a set at the 2017 Barcelona Open. He crushed Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-1, 6-2 and then eased past South African Kevin Anderson.
In the quarter-finals he was pushed to the limit by youngster Hyeon Chung but he managed to come out on top and won the match 7-6 (4), 6-2. In the semi-finals he defeated Horacio Zeballos, 6-3, 6-4 to reach his 106th career final.
Nadal is the clear favourite to lift the title at the final of the 2017 Barcelona Open but despite that the Spaniard has not ruled out his opponent entirely. Thiem shocked the world after he defeated world no.1 Murray in the semi-finals, which was his first win over a world no.1 and Nadal is expecting a tough match.
"It's not a surprise that Dominic is in the final. He is one of the best in the world, and he loves clay. At the beginning of the tournament, he was already one of the main favourites to be in the final. He imposes a lot on his shots, and if you let him be comfortable, it's almost impossible to stop him. It's going to be a difficult match, the type of match where either you play great or you won't win," ATP's official website quoted Nadal as saying.
Thiem is highly regarded as a future Grand Slam champion but the Austrian has not been able to get going in 2017 so far. He did win the Rio Open in February but apart from that his best performances have been in the Mexican Open and the Indian Wells where he reached the quarter-finals.
However, his performances in the Barcelona Open have been amazing so far. He defeated Britain's Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals and then Yuichi Sugita to set up a semi-final clash against Murray. Thiem took the first set 6-2 and the dropped his first set in the tournament as Murray took the second but the Austrian came back strong to win the decider 6-4.
After his win against the world no.1 Thiem described this win as something special and the best victory this year so far.
"It's the first win over a world no. 1, so it's really something special. But it's also the first win over a top-10 guy this season. There are many positive things to take from today's match. For me personally, it's the best victory this year so far. I went down in the third set when he broke me in the first game. But the way I came back mentally was a huge step forward today," Thiem said.
Where to watch
The Barcelona Open final between Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem is set to start at 4:00pm local time, 7:30pm IST and 10:00am EST.
TV and live streaming information
India: TV: No coverage. Live streaming: Sony Liv.
UK: TV: Sky Sports Mix. Live streaming: Sky Go.
South Africa: TV:SuperSport. Live streaming: SuperSport live streaming
USA: TV:ESPN,Tennis Channel: Live Streaming: Tennis Channel Live.
Spain: TV: TVE, Teledeporte
Canada: TV: RDS.