Saturday, 18 August, 2018

Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem for 11th French Open title

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Shannon Reynolds | 11 June, 2018, 12:17

The Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy was back in Nadal's arms after his straight-sets victory over David Ferrer in 2013, but the hard yards were achieved in the semi-finals when he defeated Djokovic 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 9-7 in a four-hour, 37-minute epic.

"He's very aggressive, with big shots", Nadal said in halting French before switching to English. "When that change, will be a time to do another thing, and I am not anxious about this".

If there was a scare for Nadal it was an outbreak of cramp in his left hand in the third set, which he managed to shake off, like everything else this fortnight.

For an instant, before it became clear that he could continue, the unthinkable seemed possible.

But anyone thinking he might relax having again won the tournament he says he has a "love affair" with will be wrong. "I was not under control of my [middle] finger". So I just am just going to keep fighting for things and that's it.

The final set isn't your traditional set, but rather a super tie-break which is a race to 10 points with a difference of at least two points.

"Many thanks", he told the crowd. Some paying customers at Philippe Chatrier or watching from a distance may have shared that sentiment - a predictable yearning for a close, competitive encounter.

After the victory - which saw Nadal claim his 17th Grand Slam title in total, just three behind Roger Federer's all-time record of 20 - social media was quick to laud the 32-year-old's staggering achievement.

It was clay-court tennis as usual at Roland Garros on Sunday, as the Spaniard won his 11th French Open singles title.

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But Thiem, unusually standing up to Nadal's first serve, forced two break points in the next game and converted the second with a flashing forehand into the right corner.

Nadal's Barcelona Open semifinal win over David Goffin was his 400th tour-level clay-court match win, making him the fourth man in the Open Era to win 400 matches on clay, after Vilas (659), Manuel Orantes (502) and Muster (422).

Speaking of semifinals, Nadal is ideal when he has reached that round with an 11-0 record - and of course, an 11-0 record in finals appearances as well. "It was just bad misses".

The ever-elegant Swiss eased his way past Marin Cilic in the final who was battling with a foot injury. "And, of course, it was not nice to lose the first set, but still it was not a key point of today".

The muscular Spaniard had won all 10 of his previous Roland Garros finals and although Thiem was the only man to have beaten him on clay over the past two seasons, the Austrian never threatened the claycourt master on Sunday. He won the first six points and broke for 2-0.

For the past two years, Thiem has been threatening to encroach on Nadal's territory. "Let me enjoy this title", he said, mildly.

"Still, I'm disappointed, of course". I have passion for what I am doing.

"But I never have been insane about all this kind of stuff".

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

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