Monday, 19 November, 2018


Rafael Nadal wins another French Open crown

Roger Federer Zhang Getty Images
Noah Ferguson | 11 June, 2018, 12:46

He seemed unbeatable on the surface. He has a record 11 wins at both the Monte-Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open, eight at the Rome Masters (Italian Open) and five more at the Madrid Open.

The Austrian is never one to hide his frustration, but then the sheer relentlessness of Nadal on clay would wear anyone down.

Rafael Nadal described his performance at the French Open past year, when he didn't surrender a set, as "perfect". Now, a decade later, the Spaniard is still the undisputed King of Clay. Past year he lost in the opening round to Tommy Haas. In 2015, he was defeated by a seemingly-unstoppable Novak Djokovic.

Sunday's win was Nadal's 17th major trophy, only putting him three behind Roger Federer. He played a great two weeks.

Roland Garros is undergoing a major modernization project, as have Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows, the venue of the U.S. Open.

Thiem started the match quite poorly.

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

After an early swap of service breaks in Paris, it was 4-all in the opening set. On three occasions Nadal won Roland Garros without losing a set (2008, 2010, 2017), becoming the third man in the Open Era after Ilie Năstase and Björn Borg to do so.

The next few games were an absolute treat for fans of clay court tennis.

Defeating Rafael Nadal on the clay of Roland Garros may just be the toughest individual challenge in the history of sport.

"Thiem has to believe". Since his first French Open appearance in 2005, Nadal has gone 86-2 with one withdrawal. Nadal had another massage at 5-2 and he ended Thiem's ordeal on his fifth match point when the Austrian returned long.

"I was really fighting and playing from the first to the last moment", Thiem said.

Unfortunately, about half an hour later, the answer became a clear and resounding no.

That was swatted away with Nadal's double-handed backhand, though, and the second set duly went the way of the favourite. Of those 20, the Spaniard only won one by hitting a victor. The French Open statisticians are nicer than they should be, as all but one of Thiem's 19 errors in that stretch were unforced (officially, 12 were unforced and seven were forced).

Thiem however was able to hold serve regularly and had a chance to get back on serve but his break chance at 2-4 evaporated when Nadal hit a sublime drop shot, then passing shot.

Sunday's final will be Nadal's 24th Grand Slam final, putting him second all time.

He has now taken his total Grand Slam win to an impressive 17, edging closer to Roger Federer's 23. The other three are Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and Federer, all of whom have won four each.

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