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US Open: Nadal to pass Thiem test

Post-Labor Day Weekend means that the US Open is into its second week. And it sets the stage for the business end of the tournament to see who will take the last Grand Slam titles of the tennis year.

With the quarter-finals starting on Tuesday, reigning champion Rafael Nadal will now face off against power hitter Dominic Thiem on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

It is a rematch of their French Open final back in the spring. But for the first time in their now 11 matches against each other, Nadal and Thiem will walk onto the court together on a non-clay court.

Odds: Nadal -392, Thiem +266

It will be the fourth time in 2018 alone that Nadal and Thiem will be opposite of each other from the net. Nadal dominated Thiem in both their French Open final and Monte Carlo quarter-final. And though Thiem did get a great win over the lefty legend in Madrid (his third against Nadal), Nadal has never played that well in the Spanish capital compared to the other big clay-court events due to that city's high altitude. Most importantly, this match is at the US Open, as Thiem has never had any notable Slam success outside of the French Open.

Thiem at least will be comforted by the facts of Nadal having two battles against big-hitters Karen Khachanov and Nikoloz Basilashvili in the last couple of rounds, and by how he played his best hard-court match ever in defeating Kevin Anderson in straight sets. There's no question that Thiem's power is even slightly greater than Khachanov and Basilashvili to make Nadal really uncomfortable, and he has already proven that in the past.

Prediction: Rafa in 4 will be the theme vs Thiem

Thiem at least sees that Nadal's serve is still vulnerable at the moment as well to get into his service games. That will strengthen the Austrian's belief that he could pull off the upset. But the 25-year-old still is learning how to shorten his strokes and use his big serve consistently to be an elite hard court player and come into a non-clay contest against Nadal with 50/50 odds.

Thiem will excite the crowd and give Nadal a much tougher match than their last meeting. In the end, however, the 17-time Grand Slam champion should win this in four sets.

Andrew Jones
@sluggahjells in Tennis