Rafael Nadal, the tennis superstar leading men’s rankings, has clinched a record-extending 11th French Open win after beating eight-ranked Dominic Thiem in straight sets to defend his title.
The clay-court specialist from Spain raced to a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory in two hours and 42 minutes over his younger Austrian rival and first-time major finalist on a warm, humid Sunday afternoon in France’s capital, Paris.
This was Nadal’s 11th win at the French Open, also known as Roland Garros. Overall, the 32-year-old has won 17 Grand Slam championships – the four most important tennis events held annually in France, United States, Britain and Australia.
Australia’s Margaret Court is the only other player to have won the same major ― the Australian Open ―11 times.
“It’s amazing, I can’t describe my feelings because it’s not even a dream to win here 11 times,” said an emotional Nadal after the final. “It’s impossible to think something like this.”
Nadal broke serve early in all three sets against the only player who had beaten him on clay over the past two seasons.
Despite the loss, the 24-year-old Austrian said it had been a “great two weeks” for him.
“Rafa, I just want to say well done,” he said at the post-match presentation. “What you did and what you are doing is the most outstanding thing that any athlete can achieve in sport.”
Nadal had come into the year’s second Grand Slam high on confidence, after wins in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. His only loss on the surface this year had come to Thiem in Madrid.
However, it was not all smooth sailing for Nadal on Sunday, as he started suffering cramps on his left hand in the third set.
“Tough moment in the third set when I got a little bit cramped on the hand,” Nadal said. “I was very scared.”
The Spaniard now inches closer to Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20 Grand Slam titles. ― Al Jazeera