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Nadal in heaven with title No. 11 in Paris

11 June, 2018, 07:46 | Author: Rachael Silva
  • Rafael Nadal picks his best wins ever

When he raised the envied arms after his 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win, he had made the 24-year-old Austrian ranked No. 8 in the world, Dominic Thiem, his seventh different French Open final victim, counting Roger Federer four times and Novak Djokovic twice.

Nadal threw his arms skywards and turned to his entourage including coach and fellow Mallorcan Carlos Moya and his uncle Toni, who stood down from his coaching role previous year after his nephew worn his 10th French crown.

If there were any reason for a bit of intrigue entering Sunday, it was this: Thiem beat Nadal on red clay at Rome in May 2017 and again at Madrid last month.

The 32-year-old is also the first man to win the same tournament 11 times, Margaret Court the only other tennis player in history to do so at the Australian Open.

It marks Nadal's record-setting 11th Roland Garros crown, a stunning feat.

In Madrid, Thiem said the key was to be positive against Nadal.

"Rafa, I just want to say well done", he said at the post-match presentation.

Rafael Nadal is the French Open 2018 victor.

The Austrian had trouble with the Nadal serve, and he gave up an easy hold. Only Thiem's 2016 victory over Nadal in Buenos Aires was a success on non-quick clay.


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

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

Nadal's welling eyes during the trophy ceremony provided a moment of vulnerability after a match that had very few of them, apart from a freakish interlude in the third set when Nadal abruptly stopped mid-service game with a disconcerted expression and left the baseline to request medical attention for a cramping left hand.

Nadal, 32, is second behind Federer in the list of all-time Grand Slam titles, three clear of Pete Sampras in third. "Of course, I have ambition, I have passion for what I am doing, but I never have been insane about all this kind of stuff", Nadal told a news conference.

The No. 7-seeded Thiem was trying to become only the second player from Austria to earn a Grand Slam title; Thomas Muster won the 1995 French Open.

Beaten French Open finalist Dominic Thiem believes this won't be his only shot at Grand Slam glory.

The duo have met nine times throughout their career, all on clay, with Nadal taking six meetings to Thiem's three. Nadal's had some challenges at Roland-Garros' championship stage over the years, but few athletes in any sport have ever been more acclimatized to a venue the way Nadal has owned the terra firma of Roland-Garros' grounds.

Nadal plans to return to Paris in 2019 and try and clinch a 12th title at Roland Garros. When he first halted play, Nadal removed that tape, which he said let his circulation improve.

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