Rafael Nadal domination of Dominic Thiem is a sign of great things to come

Nadal won his first match in 351 days.

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Maybe Rafael Nadal's victory over Dominic Thiem was just one match. But after not playing a singles match in 349 and likely worried about what kind of form he will be in and how long he would take to get back in championship form, Nadal slammed Thiem 7-5 6-1. Nadal's serve was the biggest reason.

Thiem did not only struggle to try to break Nadal, he had a difficult time even winning a point. Nadal's serve is excellent not because he hits the ball as hard as someone such as Nick Kyrgios but because of his pace plus placement. He has hardly served better than he did in the first round of the 2024 Brisbane International.

After losing only three points in his first two service games, he got better losing only three points in his final eight service games. Thiem started off serving well as the players traded holds for much of the first set before Nadal got the late break to take the first set 7-5. The second set was simply Nadal playing at a level Thiem is unlikely to be able to reach.

Rafael Nadal dominant in the first round of the Brisbane International

Rafael Nadal will now play qualifier Jason Kubler in the second round on Wednesday. Nadal would have more likely played ATP No. 35 Aslan Karatsev but Karatsev was forced to withdraw from the Brisbane International with a knee injury. Not that Karatsev would have given Nadal any issues the way Nadal played on Tuesday.

In fact, Nadal played so well that he should now be considered one of the favorites at the event. There is no Jannik Sinner, Carols Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, or Novak Djokovic in Brisbane so if Nadal can put together a string of matches like the one he played against Thiem, imagining anyone beating him is difficult. The only player with a real chance might be Holger Rune who is currently using a temporary coach before Boris Becker rejoins him for the Australian Open.

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