Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Sports | By Brooke Harris

Rafael Nadal creates history with unprecedented 11th French Open title

Rafael Nadal creates history with unprecedented 11th French Open title

Victory at Roland Garros on Sunday proved memorable for Rafael Nadal, with the Spaniard securing his 11th success at the French Open, although he's since made clear that he was bothered by hand cramps in the third set which alarmed him due to the humidity.

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.

Diego Schwartzman has come closest this fortnight to become the third man to beat Nadal in Paris.

This was Nadal's 11th win at the French Open, also known as Roland Garros. If possible, it burns even brighter on the red dirt now.

Nadal, however, averted danger with a pass after dragging Thiem in with a deft drop-shot. Over the last two tournaments, he's lost one set.

Nadal's celebration was restrained ― throwing his arms skywards and turning to his entourage including coach and fellow Mallorcan Carlos Moya and his uncle Toni who stood down previous year when his nephew Nadal reached La Decima. That was part of a five-game run that sent Nadal on his way.

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"It was a cramping on the [middle] finger but it was not a normal cramping", Nadal explained afterwards.

The match had begun on a bright note. He played a great two weeks.

Rafael Nadal looks borderline unbeatable at the moment.

In a 10-minute second game of the second set, Thiem suffered more trauma.

At the age of 19, he became the first teenager to win a major singles title since Pete Sampras at the US Open in 1990.

Certainly, Nadal played a role. I am happy that other people have things, and I am very satisfied, and I feel very lucky with all the things that happened it me. The Philippe Chatrier is his court, he decides the pace and the tempo. He crowds you, stifles you.

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There were two tricks up Nadal's sleeve in Paris this year. 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.

"Thiem will continue to improve and he will continue to pursue his version of perfection". The Austrian's single-handed backhand, like those of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka before him, cracked under the strain.

But Thiem has form against the Spaniard. When a return went long on a fifth match point, Nadal raised his arms in joy. Like Nadal so often is.

Thiem says he is "confident" his first appearance in a Grand Slam final will not be his last.

Having been there, done that so often, Nadal, meanwhile, followed the usual script to perfection. Nadal's level immediately cooled off a little, though, and Thiem worked his way back into the set as he broke back in the following service game.

But Nadal showed no signs of slowing down his march to history.

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Thiem, now 24 and ranked a career-high No. 7 following his first major final, said he enjoyed seeing Nadal thundering away from the comfort of his childhood couch far more than trying to field the lightning bolts coming at him across the net Sunday. A wild, misguided forehand sealed his fate, one of 18 unforced errors to Nadal's 12 in the set.

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