Rafael Nadal obliterates Dominic Thiem to claim record 11th title

Grant SmithJun 12, 2018

In full control of the French Open final, a rather familiar position for him, Rafael Nadal was suddenly anxious. But as inevitable as the history-making seems, it never ceases to amaze.

Rafael Nadal celebrates after his win over Dominic Thiem during their men's singles final match on Day 15 of the 2018 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 10, 2018.

For the 22-year-old Czechs, it was their first Slam title. If possible, it burns even brighter on the red dirt now.

"I think it was the first time against him here in Roland Garros where it was a fight", said Thiem, who told Nadal he remembered being 11 years old and watching the Spaniard win his first title in 2005.

Nadal is now up to 17 Grand Slam titles, second all time to Roger Federer.

Thiem stayed with Nadal in the early going on a cloudy and steamy afternoon; the temperature was 77 degrees (24 Celsius), the humidity approached 70 percent.

After sitting out the clay season to fully rest and prepare for the grass and last playing match in Miami on March 24, the 20-time grand slam victor is quietly confident that all is falling into place as he mounts his quest for a ninth Wimbledon trophy next month.

We picked up a victor in Friday's semi-final with Rafa Nadal comprehensively thrashing Juan Martin Del Potro, to cover the -6.5 game handicap easily.

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

The match had begun on a bright note. Serves the ball but Thiem nets it, easy picking this for the Spaniard.

It rarely is for Nadal at a place he has lorded over the way no other man ever has at any Grand Slam tournament.

Midway through the opening set, Nadal's aqua T-shirt was so soaked with sweat it stuck to him, so he changed into a fresh one at a changeover, drawing catcalls from spectators.

Nadal had come into the year's second Grand Slam high on confidence, after wins in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.

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

As he walked back to his chair, he was overheard saying, "Curse that volley". You don't enter a dog-fight against Nadal and emerge victorious.

Up in the stands, Nadal's uncle Toni, his former coach, was nervous, too, "because I thought maybe we can have a problem", he said. "In general, it was - game wise - a good game". Some paying customers at Philippe Chatrier or watching from a distance may have shared that sentiment - a predictable yearning for a close, competitive encounter. It is rare - in fact only twice in his 88 matches has it happened-that the opponent is not swept away by the heady, swirling ride he takes them on. He now does some part of his on-court interviews in French and has developed a flat forehand inside-out victor to sharpen the attacking edge further. That led to 34 winners (eight more than Nadal), but also 42 unforced errors (18 more than Nadal).

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