Friday, 21 September, 2018


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

Noah Ferguson | 11 June, 2018, 03:14

The lone player to defeat Nadal on clay over the last two seasons, Thiem made incremental progress by winning nine games Sunday, two more than in each of their previous meetings here.

Despite his remarkable efforts, the 32-year-old remains three titles behind Federer, who will be targeting a 21st Slam win at Wimbledon next month.

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.

He said it was because he had started the clay-court season with "some doubts" before going on to win a record-extending 11th title at Roland Garros.

Thiem was on the couch, watching on TV, in 2005, when Nadal earned his first Grand Slam trophy in Paris at age 19.

Up a break at 2-1 in the third set, Nadal stopped serving after a fault because he couldn't straighten his left middle finger.

For me, you know, if you tell me seven, eight years ago that I will be here [at] 32 years old having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something nearly impossible, but here we are.

Nadal entered Sunday's final 85-2 lifetime at Roland Garros, and that fact alone put Thiem in a precarious position before the proceedings even got underway.

In a world bustling with ball-maulers yearning to topple euphorically onto Roland Garros clay or merely stand and raise the arms skyward in triumph just once in life, Rafael Nadal did so Sunday for a preposterous 11th time, even while choosing the standing option for only the second.

"It's not even a dream to win here 11 times, because its impossible to think of something like this".

"What you did and what you are doing", Thiem told Nadal during the trophy ceremony, "is one of the most outstanding things that any athlete is doing in any sport". "You never know where is the limit", he said.

Until 4-all, 15-all in the opening set, to be precise. After Nadal held there for 5-4, Thiem basically handed over the next game - and the set - by making four mistakes in a row. A volley into the net. Midway through the opening set, Nadal's aqua T-shirt was so soaked with sweat it stuck to him, so he changed into a fresh one at a changeover, drawing catcalls from spectators.

Nadal celebrated in relatively low key fashion, but then there is not much novelty value in this. That seemed to unsettle him and he played poor game that culiminated in a wild backhand going long to give him the lead.

Rafael Nadal's reign as the clay court king isn't ending any time soon. Another forehand victor from Nadal found a corner, and Thiem yelled toward his coach.

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