Factor in the two-day contest with Djokovic, which lasted four hours and 13 minutes overall, and Thiem's chances of preventing Nadal collecting a 12th title this afternoon appear annoyingly slim.
"Always, to play Rafa here on this court, is always the ultimate challenge, one of the toughest challenges in sports in general", Thiem said Saturday after his five-set, two-day semifinal win over Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic levelled the match by taking the fourth set 7-5.
Thiem, 25, said it had been a thrill to be in the semi-final line-up alongside Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer, calling them "maybe the three best players of all time".
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It was Federer's worst loss at the Slams in 11 years.
He also played on Thursday while Spaniard Nadal played only on Tuesday and Friday and was able to put his feet up while Thiem slugged his way past Djokovic.
It snapped Djokovic's 26-match winning streak in Grand Slams and ended the Serbian's hopes of holding all four of the sport's major prizes simultaneously for the second time, having achieved it by winning his only French Open in 2016. But a sensational forehand pass by Thiem gave him a fourth set point which he converted when his dipping backhand forced a volley error.
Ask the Austrian media who follow Thiem week in, week out throughout the season, and they will tell you that since his split from Bresnik, he seems to be playing with more freedom, expressing himself more on the court. Every time someone reaches the final here it is against Rafa, the last year was an awesome experience and I will try everything to do better this year. When they returned, Djokovic hit back to get back on serve.
Et de 12 pour un Nadal indestructible — Roland-Garros H
J'ai tout tenté, tout essayé et tout ce que je peux dire c'est que j'admire la manière dont tu parviens à être encore plus fort. Un rythme que l'Autrichien n'a pas pu tenir sur la longueur, victime d'une terrible baisse de régime après la deuxième manche.
"I don't even know who I need to go search for to go practice with somebody who plays like him".
Tournament director Guy Forget denied suggestions that Djokovic had left the grounds before play was postponed. "What I was explained [Friday] on the court in the first set when I asked the supervisor, he came on the court and he said, 'As long as there are no flying objects coming to the court, we're good'".
In one incredible rally, Djokovic baited Thiem with a drop shot, the Austrian slid in and in a piece of pure art, sent the ball back, over the net at the acutest angle possible.
Thiem missed the chance for an early break despite a barely believable slice across the net but the net came to his aid again in the fourth as he found that break and went 3-1 ahead.
Thiem stops Djokovic in semi; Barty is women's champ
But Thiem more than deserves to be facing Nadal again in Paris, and for the third time in a major in the past year . The match lasted two days after it was suspended early in the third set due to rain on Friday.