Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

French Open 2018: Rafael Nadal wins 11th title

Rafael Nadal Dominic Thiem GETTYRafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem go head-to-head at approximately 2pm UK time today
Cary Erickson | 11 June, 2018, 02:10

Dominic Thiem remembers sitting in front of a TV to follow along as Rafael Nadal made his Grand Slam final debut and won his first French Open title back in 2005.

The Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy was back in Nadal's arms after his straight-sets victory over David Ferrer in 2013, but the hard yards were achieved in the semi-finals when he defeated Djokovic 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 9-7 in a four-hour, 37-minute epic.

After claiming his 17th career Grand Slam title, Nadal was set to retain his top position at the latest ATP rankings ahead of arch rival Roger Federer.

The Spaniard also won the title without losing a set, becoming the third man to do so in the Open era after Ilie Nastase and Borg.

Nadal got off to a dream start, pocketing the first six points of the match as he broke Thiem in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead.

Thiem, 24, is touted as a potential Grand Slam victor of the future, but was no match for Nadal on his favored surface, with the Spaniard powering to victory in around two and half hours.

"I am sure", Nadal said after the match, "you will win here in the next couple of years". Key in that regard was his backhand, which consistently flustered Thiem, who didn't have the same bag of tricks at his disposal.

Rafael Nadal
GETTYSerial winner Rafael Nadal is chasing a 17th Grand Slam title

To commemorate Nadal's record-breaking win, Nike is releasing a limited-edition T-shirt that features the number 11 and Nadal's signature logo.

Nadal, however, turned the screw in the 10th game and Thiem seemed to grow nervous, sending a forehand long to hand his opponent the opening set.

Rafael Nadal celebrates with the trophy after winning the French Open. Nadal had another massage at 5-2 and he ended Thiem's ordeal on his fifth match point when the Austrian returned long.

Thiem is playing at his limit just to stay in touch.

Dominic Thiem is the only man who has gotten the better of him on clay in the last two years.

There was a nervy moment when Nadal called his trainer to the court on several occasions as he appeared to be suffering from cramp in the fingers of his racket hand. Of those 86 victories, 78 have come when Nadal has won the first set, after which he has never lost a match on Parisian clay. There is a slight chance of rain, but not until later in the afternoon after 5pm.

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