Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Same result, different day for French Open champion Rafael Nadal

Shannon Reynolds | 11 June, 2018, 04:57

Look back over Rafael Nadal's Grand Slam history after his 17th major win at the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros.

Nadal remained implacable in the homestretch, intent on ignoring his temporarily impaired hand, outracing the rainclouds that hovered close and low but didn't erupt, and trying to outrun, outhit and outwit a player who was 11 years old when he won his first title here in 2005.

The younger challengers struggle to land a punch, and the last six men's Grand Slam titles have now gone in the sequence of Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal. For sure, me, I'm confident that this was not my last Grand Slam final, and that's my biggest goal, to get into the next one and then to do it better than today. It was his best performance of the fortnight, as Nadal confirmed on court, just when he needed it most.

Well, Nadal has answered that question now without too much trouble.

Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray - the so-called Big Four - have dominated the men's game to such a degree that Thiem is only the second player now younger than 28 to have reached a major singles final. However, here past year in the semi-finals, Nadal destroyed Thiem, losing just seven games in a rout, but it is worth mentioning that Thiem triumphed in their last meeting in Madrid last month, in the quarter-finals. "When someone wins 11 times here, for me it's unbelievable", he told reporters.

Of those 86 victories, 78 have come when Nadal has won the first set, after which he has never lost a match on Parisian clay. He is, however, the second player overall to win a major 11 times after Australia's Margaret Court, who won four of her 11 Australian Open titles after the start of the Open Era in 1968.

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Just like that, Nadal was off on a five-game burst to lead 3-0 in the second set.

The Austrian hit straight back to inflict an eleventh break of the tournament on the Spaniard as the first set became a mixture of brilliance and attrition, with the first seven games taking 45 minutes.

Years ago, Rafael Nadal earned the nickname the "King of Clay" for a reason.

Despite the loss, the 24-year-old Austrian said it had been a "great two weeks" for him.

But from the moment Nadal broke serve in the 10th game to win the opening set Thiem's belief ebbed away.

With the two heavy favourites in the semi-finals winning, we have the final that most people during the latter stages would have wanted, Nadal v Thiem, and before I discuss the data in detail, I wanted to talk about their previous meetings a little more. Those conditions might have contributed to the cramping that affected Nadal about two hours into the final, at 2-1 in the third set.

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