So the big question is, can Thiem upset Nadal or will the King of Clay rule on his dirt?
Nadal's streak began at Roland Garros a year ago and was ended by Thiem, who beat the Spaniard in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open.
The Austrian is one of just three players to down Nadal on clay at least three times.
He won an under-12 regional crown at age eight and by 12 had captured Spanish and European age-group junior titles.
"I'm very pleased I'm not playing today!" His only loss on the surface this year had come to Thiem in Madrid.
Dominic Thiem of Austria was no match for the veteran, and the cramp was simply the latest in a significant string of fitness issues which have plagued Nadal over the course of the competition.
And he took the biggest of big cuts on his groundstrokes, his feet leaving the ground as he threw his whole body into them as if the very outcome of the match - not any individual point, but the whole shebang depended on the strength of that one whip of his white racket.
Thiem was under the cosh, saving four break points in the first game of the third set before Nadal inevitably broke for 2-1.
That was swatted away with Nadal's double-handed backhand, though, and the second set duly went the way of the favourite.
The problem for the 24-year-old was that his serve wasn't co-operating.
Thiem dug in - especially in the roughly 13-minute sixth game - but he crumbled attempting to stay in the set, making four unforced errors.
Thiem, mixing heavy topspin and flat groundstrokes and angling balls across the sidelines, saved a break point at 1-2 and two more at 2-3 and there were signs that Nadal was struggling with his timing - over-cooking several forehands. That was part of a five-game run that sent Nadal on his way. Frustrated ThiemNadal, however, turned the screw in the 10th game and Thiem seemed to grow nervous, sending a forehand long to hand his opponent the opening set.
Seemingly cruising to victory, that's when Nadal called for the trainer, the second time he did it at the French Open mid-game.
Simona Halep is hoping her tough journey to a first Grand Slam title, that culminated with her lifting a historic Roland Garros trophy on Saturday can inspire the younger generation in Romania.
Nadal, however, averted danger with a pass after dragging Thiem in with a deft drop-shot. The Spaniard's 11th Monte Carlo title and his eighth Rome title were his 31st and 32nd Masters titles, respectively, breaking a tie with Djokovic, who has won 30. Last year, he lost 15-13 in the fifth set of his last-16 tie against Gilles Muller.
Slow starts have plagued Nadal in several of his matches this fortnight, most notably against 11th-seed Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals.