Sports

Nadal still untouchable as he claims 11th French title

Nadal still untouchable as he claims 11th French title

Rafael Nadal "could never dream of" winning 11 French Open titles.

Rafael Nadal has won his 11th French Open title thanks to a straight-sets victory over Dominic Thiem.

The 32-year-old Spaniard, with 16 majors to his name, will play his 24th Grand Slam final at Roland Garros against Dominic Thiem who is in his first.

Nadal's 11th title takes his grand slam tally to 17 and even at 32, despite the miles in his legs, who is going to stop him making it 12 in a year's time? However, here previous year in the semi-finals, Nadal destroyed Thiem, losing just seven games in a rout, but it is worth mentioning that Thiem triumphed in their last meeting in Madrid last month, in the quarter-finals.

Nadal's welling eyes during the trophy ceremony provided a moment of vulnerability after a match that had very few of them, apart from a freakish interlude in the third set when Nadal abruptly stopped mid-service game with a disconcerted expression and left the baseline to request medical attention for a cramping left hand. But after, the Spaniard was imperious.

Nadal struck first in an enthralling opening set, breaking Thiem's first service game to take a two-game lead but they were back on serve immediately as the Austrian hit back. At the following changeover, he was given a salt pill by a doctor and had his left forearm massaged by a trainer.

Nadal broke Argentinian Guillermo Vilas's 29-year record of 53 consecutive clay-court match victories by winning his first-round match at the 2006 French Open.

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Sunday's win was Nadal's 17th major trophy, only putting him three behind Roger Federer.

"I am sure you will win here in the next couple of years", Nadal told Thiem afterward. Only two players have ever come from two sets down to beat the Spaniard, and neither of those occasions was on his favourite surface.

That it was not was testimony to Nadal's level, which never wavered, despite everything Thiem threw at him.

Rafael Nadal would love to surpass Roger Federer's men's record of 20 Grand Slam titles but says he is not "crazy" about catching his great rival.

But Nadal held with some clever drop shots and after taking the second set it merely became a race against time to finish off Thiem before the rain arrived.

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

Ten years ago, Nadal was already the King of Clay. He lost in the semifinals in the last two years and has been the second best clay-court player in the world during that time. Serving to stay in the set at 4-5, the Austrian had Nadal scampering with a massive forehand down the line, but with the entire expanse of the court to play with, he dumped a resultant backhand volley into the net. The world No. 8, too, was the last man to overcome Nadal on clay, last month in Madrid.


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