Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem to win record-extending 11th French Open title

By Mutala Yakubu
 Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

An imperious Rafael Nadal won a record-extending 11th French Open title by seeing off young pretender Dominic Thiem in the final.


The world No 1 sealed a 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory to take his impeccable record to 11-0 in title matches at Roland Garros and to an overall career mark of 86-2 at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament.

The 32-year-old Spaniard also secured his 17th major trophy, which moves him within three of great rival Roger Federer's all-time record.

"It's really incredible. I played a great match against a great player," said Nadal. "I had a tough moment in the third set with cramps in my hand. I was very scared but that's sport - it was very humid.

"To win 11 times here - it's fantastic and not something I ever dreamed of."
Thiem was appearing in his first Grand Slam final but entered it as the man to have ended Nadal's 21-match winning streak on clay and his streak of 50 straight sets won on his favourite surface in Madrid, last month.

Nadal, playing in his 24th Grand Slam final overall, realised the resilient Thiem would provide a tough challenge after the pair stood toe-to-toe, exchanging a couple of breaks of serve during a stirring opening in stiflingly humid conditions in Paris before the 24-year-old from Austria held serve in a marathon sixth game.

But, at 4-5, Thiem's serve let him down badly, handing Nadal three set points - the first of which he converted.

There seemed a sense of inevitability about the contest when Nadal consolidated his lead by taking advantage in the Austrian's first service game of the second set with his fifth break-point opportunity.

Thiem, who claimed his 10th ATP Tour title after winning in Lyon the week before the French Open, was doing his utmost to keep the match competitive, but the defending champion was relentless in his pursuit of another title, with the second set duly going the way of the favourite, 6-3.

Nadal, who won record 11th Monte Carlo and Barcelona titles earlier this year, looked to crush Thiem's hopes as he took a decisive step towards another crown by winning a marathon third game in the third set.

In a moment of drama, Nadal's left hand appeared to cramp at 2-1 and 30-0, before he called for the trainer saying he could not hold his racket.

He managed to come through that game unscathed and then received further treatment, taking on plenty of fluids, including a salt solution, at 3-2.

The recovery was quick and effective as he strode into a 5-2 lead before taking his fifth championship-point opportunity in a nervy ending for tennis immortality.

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"Rafa, this is one of the most outstanding things an athlete has achieved in any sport," said the seventh seed Thiem, who was playing in his first Slam final. "It's amazing, bravo.

"I saw you win this in 2005 when I was just 11 years old. But I never dreamed of getting the chance to play the final here."

Source: Skysports