Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem for his 11th French Open title

As he sat down in the French Open lounge on Saturday, Günter Bresnik, Dominic Thiem's coach, was asked about Thiem's upcoming French Open final against Rafael Nadal, the finest clay court tennis player of all time.

A left hand cramp in the third and final set proved to be no real obstacle for Nadal, the Spaniard showing he was approaching his best form ahead of the grass court season.

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. Key in that regard was his backhand, which consistently flustered Thiem, who didn't have the same bag of tricks at his disposal.

The Austrian - competing in his first grand slam final after a pair of semifinal showings in Paris - needed to win the first set to have any realistic opportunity of ending Nadal's reign. The odds are also low for the player from Spain to win in straight sets.

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

And while he gave an excellent showing, he couldn't usurp the King as Nadal won 6-4 6-3 6-2 to claim his 17th major.

Nadal had a brief moment of weakness in the first set, when the 24-year-old Austrian broke him in the third game. In Sunday's final of the French Open, the 32-year-old will take on his supposed successor on clay. "They are the first set is everything, and the weather is everything".

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Djokovic sprinted out to 5-2 but was reeled back in to 5-5, having squandered three points for a double break in the sixth game. Nadal nets it, Thiem takes the point 30-all now. He already defeated great players, such as Djokovic and Goffin after being on the verge of elimination in the first round.

Two breaks later Nadal was in a familiar position, serving for the title, and when another Thiem forehand dropped long, his arms were raised in celebration, yet again. He is, however, the second player overall to win a major 11 times after Australia's Margaret Court, who won four of her 11 Australian Open titles after the start of the Open Era in 1968.

In contrast, there are eight women now younger than 28 who have been Grand Slam singles finalists. He also beat the Spaniard in Buenos Aires in 2016.

Rafael Nadal bids for his record-extending 11th French Open championship when he faces Dominic Thiem in the final.

A remarkable year ended when the world No 1 completed a career Grand Slam by beating Novak Djokovic at Flushing Meadows.

The duo have met nine times throughout their career, all on clay, with Nadal taking six meetings to Thiem's three. The finals take place on Saturday and Sunday afternoon after 2 PM GMT.

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