After failing on the penultimate hurdle at Roland Garros in the last two years, Dominic Thiem has successfully managed to reach the final of the clay-court Grand Slam in the ongoing season, and deservedly so.
Thiem, one of the most consistent performers on clay court over the last three seasons, conceded he is under a lot of pressure ahead of his first Grand Slam final, in which he will face the 10-time champion and Rafael Nadal.
The seventh-seeded Austrian knows the enormity of the task at hand and seems to be making sure he puts in his best against the King of Clay, who has a 10-0 record in Roland Garros finals.
Notably, Thiem is the only player to have tasted success against Nadal on clay over the last two seasons. The 24-year-old ousted the world number one from Madrid Open 2018, a year after beating him in straight sets at Rome Masters.
Having faced Nadal six times since the start of 2017 season, Thiem is hopeful of causing one of the biggest French Open upsets on Sunday.
The Austrian, shortly after defeating Novak Djokovic-slayer Marco Cecchinato in Friday's first semi-final, revealed he has developed "a plan" to topple the defending champion in the final hurdle in Paris.
Thiem banks on familiarity ahead of the big final
"He's a big favourite against everybody. Still, I know how to play against him. I have a plan. If it's going to be him on Sunday, I will try everything that my plan also going to work out a little bit here and not only in Madrid or in Rome," Thiem said.
"If I want to beat him, I have to play that way like I did in Rome and in Madrid. But I'm also aware that here it's tougher. He likes the conditions more here than in Madrid, for sure. Best of five is also a different story.
"I think also a good thing is that I faced him already twice here [this season]."
Thiem has certainly been the second-best player on clay over the last two seasons. The Austrian has already won two titles (Lyon and Buenos Aires) this season and had also reached the final of Madrid Open last month.
The world number eight had a relatively tougher draw in Paris but he has managed to reach the final Sunday of the tournament with ease.
Thiem passed the first big test of the tournament in four sets against 19th seed Kei Nishikori before beating an injured Alexander Zverev in straight sets.
He avoided facing former Djokovic in the semi-final as the Serb fell to unseeded Marco Cecchinato in his quarter-final tie.
Thiem was tested by Cecchinato but the Austrian held his composure to clinch a straight-set win — 7-5, 7-6(10), 6-1 in the tricky semi-final.