Sports

Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem for his 11th French Open title

Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem for his 11th French Open title

Over the best-of-five sets on clay, Nadal improved to 111-2 - it is a figure nearly as imposing as the nearby Eiffel Tower - his lone reverses coming against Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015 at the French Open.

Rafael Nadal's record as the most successful player in French Open history was extended to a remarkable 11 titles on Sunday after he soundly bested Dominic Thiem in straights sets 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Nadal, 32, is second behind Federer in the list of all-time Grand Slam titles, three clear of Pete Sampras in third.

There was late anxiety for Nadal as the predicted thunderstorms loomed and he needed his left forearm massaged after beginning to suffer from cramp.

"I was really fighting and playing from the first to the last moment", Thiem said. He ripped off the tape around his wrist and the trainer rushed on to manipulate the hand, the fingers of which were pointing in various directions like a broken umbrella. In Madrid, Thiem said the key was to be positive against Nadal.

"Probably because I had the bandage here [around his wrist], creates pressure that doesn't allow the right circulation".

"Let me enjoy this title. I know I've had an awesome career so I want to keep fighting for these things". Thiem makes his second double fault in the game.

"Of course it's a drastic change from clay to grass". But from 4-all in the opening set, Nadal grabbed five games in a row and was in charge. Nadal appeared to take more tablets. His emotions were on show as he shed a few tears when the national anthem of Spain was played in his honour for the 11th time, an obvious sign of what this tournament means to him.

Is there even Wimbledon without the “RF” brand
Is there even Wimbledon without the “RF” brand

"Winning 11 times is definitely one of the best things somebody ever achieved in sport".

London has not been a hospitable venue for the world No. 1 in recent years, featuring exits to the likes of Lukas Rosol, Steve Darcis and most recently Gilles Muller, when the Luxembourger beat him in last year's fourth round.

"I didn't say anything to him [Dumusois]", said Thiem afterwards.

"You can't always be frustrated if somebody has more money than you, a bigger house than you, if somebody has more Grand Slams than you".

And he increased the tempo further, consigning Thiem to defeat in his first major final when the Austrian sent a return long.

Injuries pockmarked Nadal's early season and spawned doubt as he prepared to start the clay-court season that has traditionally served as a long taxi-way for Paris. There is not much more daunting of a task than doing so against Nadal at the French Open, where he is now 11-0 in finals and 86-2 overall.

Despite his remarkable efforts, the 32-year-old remains three titles behind Federer, who will be targeting a 21st Slam win at Wimbledon next month. Even more astonishingly, these two pillars of the old firm have now shared the past six majors equally between them.

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