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Nadal scales heights again to claim 11th French title

11 June, 2018, 04:55 | Author: Tommie Newton
  • Rafael Nadal

ESPN's Nicolas Pereira breaks down Rafael Nadal's record 11th French Open title following his win in straight sets over Austria's Dominic Thiem.

The Spanish world number one took his Roland Garros win-loss record to a jaw-dropping 86-2 as he captured his 17th Grand Slam title.

11 Grand Slam finals by Rafael Nadal that equals the tally of his arch-rival Roger Federer who has played 11 finals at SW19 to win an unprecedented eight titles in Wimbledon.

For Thiem, playing in his first Slam final, it was a tremendous letdown for a player who is the only man to have beaten the Spaniard on clay in the last two years.

Over the best-of-five sets on clay, Nadal improved to 111-2 - it is a figure nearly as imposing as the nearby Eiffel Tower - his lone reverses coming against Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015 at the French Open.

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

It finished 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, the result earning Nadal his 17th major title.

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A hold to love showed Thiem had not given up the ghost, however unlikely a repeat of Simona Halep's heroics from the same position a day earlier seemed.

"I still remember when you won here the first time in 2005".

Right from the start of the tournament the Nadal camp knew Thiem was the biggest danger, having seen at first hand what the Austrian can do when he defeated their man in Madrid last month. Maybe, just maybe, fans could get an entertaining French Open final-something that has been sorely lacking in this era of Nadal's absolute dominance. But this will be the first time they've met in a Grand Slam final.

The match turned at 5-4 when, on the first point, Thiem missed a simple forehand volley. His emotions were on show as he shed a few tears when the national anthem of Spain was played in his honour for the 11th time, an obvious sign of what this tournament means to him. Thiem withstood a barrage of break points to hold in a marathon sixth game, which he thought he had won at 40-30 when he left a wide ball, only for the umpire to overrule the line judge.

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.

A forehand long. Just like that, Nadal was off on a five-game run that put him up 3-0 in the second set. After guzzling water during his visit from the doctor, Nadal was back to playing his unmistakable brand of almost unbeatable clay-court tennis. At one point finally, Thiem tried going around the post in the penultimate game, just after a Nadal cross-court backhand return seared so close over the net cord that it made the Parisians murmur.

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