Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay, Wins His 11th French Open Title

11 June, 2018, 04:55 | Author: Brenda Erickson
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Nadal won an 11th French Open title this afternoon after comfortable beating Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

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.

Thiem had been the only player to have beaten Nadal on clay in the last two years - in Rome last year and Madrid this year - but at no stage did he pose a real threat to Nadal who went from strength to strength as the match went on.

"It's unbelievable 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. "I played a great match against a great player", said Nadal.

The square-shouldered Austrian tried his best to engage with Nadal rather than let Nadal's avalanche of statistics overwhelm him.

There was late anxiety for Nadal as the predicted thunderstorms loomed and he needed his left forearm massaged after beginning to suffer from cramp.

Nadal celebrated in relatively low key fashion, but then there is not much novelty value in this.

It's been nearly eerie to watch Nadal have such contrasting fortunes on clay-as we saw on Sunday-compared to on grass, with Wimbledon accounting for his worst record in any major over recent years. Whether it was at the Masters tournaments in Monte Carlo, Madrid, or Rome-whether it was his home tournament in Barcelona-Nadal nearly never lost on the Spaniard.

"I am sure you will win here in the next couple of years", Nadal told Thiem afterward.

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Nadal defeated fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4 6-1 6-2 in the semi-finals and afterwards the Argentine said it is "almost impossible" to beat Nadal on clay.

Rafael Nadal described his performance at the French Open previous year, when he didn't surrender a set, as "perfect".

Thiem dug in - especially in the roughly 13-minute sixth game - but he crumbled attempting to stay in the set, making four unforced errors.

He saved three break points in his first service game but a wayward backhand ensured Nadal took the fourth.

After winning just one point in the first two games, Thiem dragged himself back into the contest, only to throw away the opening set with an erratic 10th game as he was broken to love.

He was the only man to beat Nadal on clay over the past two seasons, doing so twice.

It was more of the same in the second, as Nadal won the opening three games in quick time to take a commanding lead he would never relinquish. Throughout his 14 years competing here, Nadal has only lost two matches.

Why? Nadal was 95-0 when capturing the opener on clay in the best of five format.

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