Rafael Nadal defeats Dominic Thiem, wins his 11th French Open title

  • Rafael Nadal defeats Dominic Thiem, wins his 11th French Open title

Rafael Nadal defeats Dominic Thiem, wins his 11th French Open title

He's a good friend, one of these players that the tour needs.

The square-shouldered Austrian tried his best to engage with Nadal rather than let Nadal's avalanche of statistics overwhelm him. Those conditions might have contributed to the cramping that affected Nadal about two hours into the final, at 2-1 in the third set.

German footballer Mario Gotze - who is not in Russian Federation with the national team but who scored the winning goal for his team in the final in Brazil four years ago - also paid tribute to Nadal. Some of the moves and shots he displayed against del Poltro were throwbacks to 2010 and 2011.

Taking on Nadal at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament is a whole other challenge.

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 is 49-2 since 2017 when playing on clay.

Unlike a year ago - when those first few games realistically settled things - Thiem bounced back, breaking straight away.

"Yes, and it's going to take probably one or two more years", said Gunter Bresnik, Thiem's coach.

There have, however, appeared to be one or two chinks in Nadal's armour at Roland Garros this year. In this tournament, Nadal's only lost one set.

At 4-4 Nadal hit a second serve that bounced before it reached the net but he shrugged that off to hold.

The number of titles won by Nadal on clay, extending his lead at the top of the men's Open Era leaderboard, ahead of Vilas (49) and Austria's Thomas Muster (40). Both men are at stages in their career that have previously been points of great decline for the greats who came before them.

American former player Pam Shriver: Bingo legs eleven Rafael Nadal. That seemed to unsettle him and he played poor game that culiminated in a wild backhand going long to give him the lead. It is as simple as it is hard: Thiem will likely need the best match of his life to earn his first major tennis title. The Argentine ended Nadal's run of 37 consecutive sets in a rain-delayed quarter-final before the Spaniard won the contest upon the resumption on Thursday under glorious blue skies.

Thiem, a 24-year-old Austrian who was playing in his first Grand Slam final, had 18 unforced errors in first set and 42 for the match.

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.

Not that 17-times Grand Slam champion Nadal, whose latest feat is all the more remarkable considering he was sidelined for several weeks this year due to injury, is pre-occupied with trying to keep up with his Swiss rival.

Nadal defeated fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4 6-1 6-2 in the semi-finals and afterwards the Argentine said it is "almost impossible" to beat Nadal on clay.