Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

Nadal Eyes 11th Title As Thiem Shrugs Off Expectations

Marco Cecchinato 'My hand was shaking I was seeing ghosts' French Open Men's Singles Day 15: Nadal value to lift the trophy with ease
Lucia Summers | 11 June, 2018, 17:17

Rafael Nadal won the French Open for the 11th time on Sunday.

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.

Nadal. the world's No. 1 player, has 17 career Grand Slam titles, now three behind Roger Federer for most all-time.

Nadal struck first in an enthralling opening set, breaking Thiem's first service game to take a two-game lead but they were back on serve immediately as the Austrian hit back.

Following his French Open win past year, Nadal looked like setting up another SW19 final with Federer, only to crash out in the fourth round to Luxembourg's Gilles Muller in a five-set thriller.

Others highlighted Nadal's remarkable record at Roland Garros since first winning the title there in 2005.

And he increased the tempo further, consigning Thiem to defeat in his first major final when the Austrian sent a return long. But after, the Spaniard was imperious.

There was late anxiety for Nadal as the predicted thunderstorms loomed and he needed his left forearm massaged after beginning to suffer from cramp. Victory also took Nadal's record at Roland Garros to 86 wins and just two losses. "I can't be always thinking of more".

Even this year, injury has continued to hound Nadal with a hip problem forcing him to quit his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic.

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"I'm just glad I'm not playing today", said Rosewall in a nod to the raw power of Nadal. With a fifth set appearing an inevitability, Cecchinato started to find the best of his game again and the former French Open champion failed to raise his.

"You can't be frustrated always if somebody has more money than you, if somebody has a bigger house than you, if somebody has more grand slams than you".

Once he moved two sets ahead it merely became a race against time for Nadal to finish the match off before the rain arrived.

"You can't live with this feeling".

Well, we never thought we'd see the day, but that rather exciting prospect came true during the Laver Cup in Prague previous year.

Looking at those statistics, it might be tempting to say that Nadal's triumph was never in doubt.

Serena struggled to find her best in the early going, relying on experience and guile to work her way past Kristyna Pliskova (not to be confused with sister and World No. 6, Karolina) and Ashleigh Barty.

Rafael Nadal's stranglehold on the French Open has endured so long and remains so strong that he has even out-lasted his favourite Court Philippe Chatrier stadium and will probably still be winning the title when it gets a roof in 2020.

In the tie-break of the tournament, Djokovic trailed 3-0, then played a couple of stunning points to save match point and give himself a couple of set points, before losing 13-11.

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