Rafael Nadal wins 11th French Open title, dominates rival in straight sets

Florence Fletcher
June 11, 2018

Playing the king of clay at the French Open is akin to scaling Mont Blanc without any ropes and even an intrepid adventurer from Europe's Alpine heartland found it a peak too steep as Rafael Nadal claimed an 11th title on Sunday.

As Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem warmed up before the French Open final, the booming voice of an announcer at Court Philippe Chatrier called out each player's bona fides.

The top-seeded Nadal won the match 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 at Roland Garros in Paris against Thiem, a 24-year-old who is ranked No. 7. "I think he is really good". It was his best performance of the fortnight, as Nadal confirmed on court, just when he needed it most. At the following changeover, he was given a salt pill by a doctor and had his left forearm massaged by a trainer.

His lead was reminiscent of their semifinal at the French Open past year, when Nadal also held the early advantage.

"If you tell me seven, eight years ago that I will be here. having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something nearly impossible", Nadal said.

"It's unbelievable, bravo. I saw you win this in 2005 when I was just 11 years old".

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The Austrian pushed Nadal hard early on but his spirit appeared crushed when the Spaniard won his service game to love to secure the first set, going on to win 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Nadal wept after being handed the trophy by Australian legend Ken Rosewall - who won the inaugural French Open in 1968. But this will be the first time they've met in a Grand Slam final. Thiem withstood a barrage of break points to hold in a marathon sixth game, which he thought he had won at 40-30 when he left a wide ball, only for the umpire to overrule the line judge.

Ramos is now in Russian Federation with the Spanish squad as they prepare for the World Cup, but took time out to tweet in Spanish, hailing Nadal for his "dynasty on clay", calling him a "tennis legend" and "sporting hero".

Nadal has not lost at Roland Garros when taking the first set and that record did not look like coming under threat as he continually rebuffed Thiem's attempts to make inroads into his serve, taking the second courtesy of an early break. In those 10 finals, Nadal has dropped just six sets but at no stage in the final on Sunday did it look like the number could rise further.

The second set was wrapped up as Thiem sent a backhand into the tramlines but the Austrian refused to capitulate and managed to save four break chances in the opening game of the third. Two players have succeeded in defeating him, and his body let him down on a third occasion.

Why? Nadal was 95-0 when capturing the opener on clay in the best of five format.

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