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June 9, 2019

Dominic Thiem

Paris, France

R. NADAL/D. Thiem

6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. After the first two sets, you're split one set apiece. From your perspective, what happened then in the match?
DOMINIC THIEM: The beginning was unbelievable intense of the match. And I dropped a little bit towards the end of the first set. Then I played the way I should play in the second set, very aggressive.

But still, I mean, I didn't make -- I think I made only five points in the return games, and, I mean, four of them obviously at 6-5. After these two sets, I dropped a little bit my level. I mean, then Rafa, who won this tournament 12 times, he stepped on me.

Afterwards, it got really tough for me.

Q. Tough day, but great tournament. Could you just take a moment and talk about Rafa's will, his sense of fight, his intensity?
DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah, he played, I think, outstanding today, because especially in the first two sets I played very good tennis. What he was performing I think is unbelievable, really.

There has to be a reason why he's that successful. I mean, he won 18 Grand Slams, which is a big number, which is only two less than Roger. So definitely he's one of the greatest of all time. Today, as well, I saw why.

As I said, I played very good the first two sets, and then I had a little drop, which is against most of the players not that bad, but he took the chance and stepped right on me.

That's it. I can only congrats him on how amazing he performed today.

Q. Can you give us an opinion about the work that you have done with Nicolas Massu and until when are you going to work with him?
DOMINIC THIEM: There is no finishing right now (smiling).

Q. But the agreement...
DOMINIC THIEM: But the work with him is going well. I had, until now, my best year for sure. I have won Indian Wells, Barcelona, finals again here.

Even though I didn't win the tournament, still, two years finals in a row, it's nice. I think that I developed my game. I was also closer than last year in the finals, I have the feeling, I mean, especially in the first two sets.

So I'm on the right way. And I failed today, but my goal and my dream is still to win this tournament or to win a Grand Slam tournament. I will try my best next year again.

I gave everything I had in these two weeks. That's all what I could do. Was not enough at the end, but I went very far.

And also, my team, big thanks to them. They supported me very, very good these two weeks. I'm looking forward to continue working with them and to come back in the grass season.

Q. I heard that after today's match you said that you felt like you had come from heaven by beating Novak yesterday and then straight into hell the way that Rafa was playing today. So you are in a unique position. Can you tell us firstly what it feels like in tennis heaven, and then also what it feels like in tennis hell?
DOMINIC THIEM: Yesterday was one of my biggest victories in my career, for sure.

That's a unique and also brutal thing, I guess, in our sport, in tennis, that I won six amazing matches. I beat yesterday one of the biggest legends of our game. Not even 24 hours later, I have to step on court against another amazing legend of our game, against the best clay-court player of all time. That also shows how difficult nowadays it is to win a Grand Slam.

That's what I meant yesterday. I was feeling so happy, with such a good win, and today, of course I lost. I failed to make my biggest dream in my tennis life come true, so I don't feel that good like yesterday.

Q. Obviously playing Rafa is such a physical match. I mean, in hindsight, if you'd been able to finish your semifinal on Friday, do you think that could have made a difference?
DOMINIC THIEM: I don't know, honestly. I felt fine physically. The first set was unbelievable intense. Second, as well.

Maybe I had a little drop in the third set, I don't know. But as I said, against other players, it's not that dramatic, a little drop like that physically and also tennis-wise. But him, such a great champion, he uses the situation and goes all in. That's what he did in Set 3 and 4.

Q. You said a little drop. You didn't think you were physically a little tired, too? Or mentally after all what happened in these last days? Is one question. And the other one is just were you surprised that Rafa Nadal was coming to the net so often and so successful? Because normally they talked about him like a baseline specialist, a great clay-court player. And then today, every time he came to the net -- I think one moment he had 20 points winning out of 24. Were you playing a little bit too much behind?
DOMINIC THIEM: The second question, for me, and if you ask all men in professional tennis, I mean, almost everybody will tell you that he's one of the best volleyers of our game. Because the last time he missed a volley was maybe seven years ago, I guess (smiling).

And very, very difficult volleys, as well. I mean, this one what bounced back into the net was very difficult. Most of the times he's so successful because he prepares the point that well, and then he has an easy volley. But still, he puts them all away.

Your first question, I mean, it was a Grand Slam final, so I didn't feel tired in the match. But on the same time, a match like yesterday, beating Novak over two days with all the interruption, it leaves traces on the body and also on the mind. That's 100%.

Q. As you said, you played an incredibly high-level match, at least in the first two sets. I was just wondering, when you're saying you want to come back and win this title next year, it seems pretty clear Rafa will still be kicking around. How exactly do you take that next step to start beating this guy in best of five on clay?
DOMINIC THIEM: I don't know now. If I know, I would sit here happier probably (smiling).

It's very tough. I mean, many -- or all guys fail to do that in Roland Garros finals. Just the numbers are crazy. He won it 12 times. 12 times the opponents in the finals failed to beat him. So also, me, I didn't have the right choices or tactics today.

But, I mean, it would be amazing to get another chance next year, maybe against him or against anybody else. But I saw it again how tough it is to arrive to a Grand Slam finals. So first of all, I have to get there. If that time comes, I will think about how I'll do even better next year.

Q. Rafa says a lot of good news about you after the match, saying you are one of the examples on tour and a role model for the kids. I'm sure this is not the first time you get praises like this. How do you think of that? Do you think you're example for the youngsters and the young players?
DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah, it's amazing to hear that from him, because he's exactly the same, such a fair athlete. Always gives his best, I guess, every day in practice and in every match, of course.

So it's an example, and it's very nice to hear that from him.

Q. You were of course in the final last year. Do you have any impression, could you say whether Rafa is as good as ever, better than ever, getting better? What would you say?
DOMINIC THIEM: Yeah, sure. He also improves and develops his game. I mean, if he wouldn't do that, for sure he wouldn't have that success every year in this tournament.

I think that we both got better compared to last year, so my goal is to improve even more until next year and come closer and closer.

Q. Congratulations on a great tournament. Rafa said, "Keep going. You'll win this some day for sure." But of course being in a Grand Slam final, there's nothing guaranteed about it. Is there a different feeling as a competitor to now having been in two and lost to him as opposed to being in another Grand Slam final against someone else? Is the gap just that much bigger that you feel less regret?
DOMINIC THIEM: No, I think I feel the same regret than I would feel against anybody else in this tournament or in one of the other three.

But of course I'm very disappointed and sad that I missed my second opportunity to win a Grand Slam title, but it's okay. I mean, I'm used to it. I lost my first two Masters 1000 finals, as well.

It's obviously the most difficult thing in our sport to win one of the four majors. First of all, I'm happy and a little bit proud that I gave myself already two opportunities to win one of these. And in the same time, I saw that I have to continue working hard to hopefully give myself more chances to do so.

Q. You were playing so well today and winning rallies in the first couple of sets that we're so used to seeing Rafa win those kind of points. Was there any time where you thought you might have got him worried today?
DOMINIC THIEM: I think that the match was pretty open in the first two sets, that's for sure. And then I completely missed the start of the third set. As I said, I had a little drop, and he was coming out in the third set like a rocket, full power.

And I didn't play as good as the first two sets, that's for sure, but he came out firing. I mean, to start with 0-3 double break, the set is almost gone. So that was the turning and the key point today.

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