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Rafael Nadal claims record-extending 11th French Open crown

11 June 2018

Rafael Nadal won his 11th French Open title on Sunday, beating out Austria's Dominic Thiem and becoming the first man to win 11 titles at any Grand Slam tournament.

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.

"It's awesome 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 my best match of the tournament", Nadal told the crowd afterward.

The square-shouldered Austrian tried his best to engage with Nadal rather than let Nadal's avalanche of statistics overwhelm him. At the following changeover, Nadal was given a salt pill by a doctor and had his left forearm massaged by a trainer. Not much more of a daunting task than doing so against this particular opponent at the French Open, where Nadal is now 11-0 in finals and 86-2 overall.

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

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

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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. "To think that Rafael has won 11 times, it's unbelievable".

Beaten French Open finalist Dominic Thiem believes this won't be his only shot at Grand Slam glory. 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. After guzzling water during that break, Nadal felt better and was back to playing his unmistakable brand of almost unbeatable clay-court tennis.

And he increased the tempo further, consigning Thiem to defeat in his first major final when the Austrian sent a return long.

Nadal endured a nervy conclusion to the final, however, when he needed treatment in the fourth game of the third set for a finger injury before sealing victory on a fifth match point when Thiem fired a backhand long. 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.

Despite matching Nadal forehand for forehand, Thiem was undone in the 10th game when three errors handed Nadal the opening set after 52 minutes on court. At the beginning of 2017, Federer held 17 Slams to Nadal's 14.

Rafael Nadal claims record-extending 11th French Open crown