Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

French Open champion Rafael Nadal


Rafael Nadal, the tennis superstar leading men's rankings, has clinched a record-extending 11th French Open win after beating eight-ranked Dominic Thiem in straight sets to defend his title.

Nadal has now won 17 Grand Slam titles - three lesser than great rival Roger Federer - and matched the all-time record of most titles won at the same Grand Slam event set by Margaret Court at the Australian Open during the 1960s and 70s.

Seventh seed Thiem arrived on a sultry Court Philippe Chatrier with three career wins over Nadal, all on clay, and in an absorbing first set lasting an hour showed why ― going toe-to-toe in some ferocious rallies.

Nadal finished with 24 unforced errors compared to Thiem's 42, and he racked up a 16-8 advantage in net points.

"It's fantastic now, I can't describe my feelings", Nadal told the crowd on Philippe Chatrier Court moments after capturing his 17th Grand Slam trophy with a 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory.

Among the more absurd stats in all of sports: Nadal boasts an 85-2 lifetime record 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.

There was still fight in Thiem, though, and he had a break point when Nadal served at 4-2 ― a game in which the Spaniard was warned for taking too long to serve.

King of Clay reigns supreme: Rafael Nadal wins 11th French Open
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. Thiem, who is the only man to beat Nadal on clay over the past two seasons, appeared for his first Grand Slam final. "Bravo.


But it ultimately proved a futile mission as, just like in all but two of Nadal's previous 87 matches here, the incredible Spaniard proved invincible, winning 6-4 6-3 6-2.

This was Nadal's 11th win at the French Open, also known as Roland Garros. "The watch keeps going always".

"It's fantastic, I can't describe my feelings because it's not even a dream to win here 11 times", said an emotional Nadal after the final. "It's definitely one of the best things somebody ever achieved in sport". And he took the biggest of big cuts on his groundstrokes, his feet leaving the ground as he threw his whole body into them, as if the very outcome of the match - not any individual point, but the whole shebang - depended on the strength of that one whip of his white racket.

It worked. For a bit.

Nadal called on the trainer to get his forearms massaged twice in the final set but even that problem failed to improve Thiem's chances of emulating fellow Austrian Thomas Muster's 1995 triumph. Midway through the opening set, Nadal's aqua T-shirt was so soaked with sweat it stuck to him. Nadal held for 5-4, and Thiem basically handed over the next game - and the set - with four mistakes.

Soon, Nadal was finding his spots.

Dominic Thiem couldn't get near the veteran on the day, despite the fact the Austrian had been the only player to defeat Nadal on Clay during this current season.

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