Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

Awe-inspiring Nadal claims record-extending 11th French Open title

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates winning French Open semifinal against Argentine Juan Martin del Potro Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay, Wins His 11th French Open Title
Lucia Summers | 10 June, 2018, 21:38

Rafael Nadal often said that he is the top player to have missed most Grand Slams or important events in the last decade or so, always due to injuries and not a lack of motivation or something like this.

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.

"I have a very hard match against a player that is playing great", the 32-year old Spaniard said. In the other semi-final, Marco Cecchinato's unusual run in the last two weeks was ended by Dominic Thiem, also in straight sets, although the first two sets were somewhat closer than anything Del Potro could muster. "I am sure you'll win here in the next couple of years".

Nadal appeared to be suffering with cramp in his left arm early in the third but even that discomfort could not derail him as the "King of Clay" extended his scarcely believable French Open win-loss record to 86-2, further underlining his status as the greatest of all time on the red dirt. After Roland Garros, Nadal's win-loss record on clay stands at 415-36.

With a celebrity audience - including actors Hugh Grant and Tim Roth as well as French stars Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin - watching, Nadal flew out of the blocks. He won the first six points and broke for 2-0.

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Nadal came in looking slightly more vulnerable than he did past year, in which he lost only 35 games in claiming the title.

Thiem undid all his good work in the next game, netting an easy volley on the first point and gifting Nadal three more unforced errors to hand over the first set. Nadal -5.5 games is available on the Exchange at [1.68] and given the fact that Nadal has tended to dominate Thiem on non-quick clay, this should be a very likely outcome if Nadal wins the final.

The Spaniard's 11th Monte Carlo title and his eighth Rome title were his 31st and 32nd Masters titles, respectively, breaking a tie with Djokovic, who has won 30.

Thiem, mixing heavy topspin and flat groundstrokes and angling balls across the sidelines, saved a break point at 1-2 and two more at 2-3 and there were signs that Nadal was struggling with his timing - over-cooking several forehands.

He still won the game anyway before summoning the doctor and trainer courtside.

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