Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Rafael Nadal lifts record 11th French Open title

Rafael Nadal lifts record 11th French Open title

Dominic Thiem was vying for his first Grand Slam title on Sunday. He won the first six points and broke for 2-0.

The signs were already ominous for Thiem at that stage because in 112 best-of-five-set matches, Nadal had never lost after taking the first set. I remember watching you win here for the first time when I was 11 years old.

Thiem decided early on that he was not going to die wondering, attacking aggressively from behind the baseline, leading to a plethora of unforced errors.

He still occasionally inconvenienced the reigning champion, not least when a deft drop shot brought up a point to break back at 2-4.

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The Spaniard raced into a 40-0 lead to earn three match points.

By contrast, Thiem was competing in his maiden major final and although he matched his illustrious opponent for large parts of the opening set, he crumbled at the crunch and never really regained his poise. These are some of the mind-boggling numbers that Nadal has managed to achieve on his favourite surface over the years. Nadal winning another French title might seem like a given from the outside, but scenes like this are a reminder to him and to us that breaking through again and again has tolls that match the rewards.

Thiem reacted well to going a break down, setting up two break points of his own with a crosscourt forehand and claiming the second with another forehand victor.

Thiem scrapped hard to save four break points but Nadal is relentless, keeping up the pressure until the seventh seed sends a backhand long. He converted the second to make the score 2-1.

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Though Thiem may pose a threat to Nadal's dominance, he has endured some struggles at Roland Garros.

The trophy was carried into the Court Philippe Chatrier in a brown box during a brief ceremony before play begins and unveiled by the two stars of music and screen. However, in Open Era, he is the first player ever (man or woman) to complete La Undécima in a single Grand Slam event.

Siniakova was the doubles runner-up at last year's U.S. Open with a different partner.

The world No 1 is looking for a record-extending 11th triumph at Roland Garros having won all 10 of his previous finals in the French capital. He also beat the Spaniard in Buenos Aires in 2016.

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"I mean, it's a big goal for me to play, soon, another Slam final", Thiem said.

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