Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem to win record 11th Roland Garros title

Coach Simone Vagnozzi Marco Cecchinato should be proud held his head high Rafael Nadal defeats Dominic Thiem, wins his 11th French Open title
Lucia Summers | 11 June, 2018, 07:46

Whether it was at the Masters tournaments in Monte Carlo, Madrid, or Rome-whether it was his home tournament in Barcelona-Nadal nearly never lost on the Spaniard.

Nicknamed "Muscles", he first won the French Open at 17 years old in 1953 and took out his second with a win over countryman Rod Laver in 1968. It was his best performance of the fortnight, as Nadal confirmed on court, just when he needed it most.

Playing Nadal at the French Open is possibly the biggest challenge in the game now, and if Thiem had to win at it he had to be flawless.

It was a match told in break points. In 2015, he was defeated by a seemingly-unstoppable Novak Djokovic. Nadal's "La Decima" was his 10th French Open, and he managed it without dropping a set throughout the tournament. The two players were going for heavy, lung-busting shots.

A year later he exacted his revenge over the Swede, but this time in the final for his fifth Roland Garros title.

Thiem started the match quite poorly.

His uncle thought wrapping around Nadal's left forearm was too tight.

"If you told seven or eight years ago that I will be here at 32 years old having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something nearly impossible, but here we are".

The next few games were an absolute treat for fans of clay court tennis.

"Thiem has to believe". Maybe, just maybe, fans could get an entertaining French Open final-something that has been sorely lacking in this era of Nadal's absolute dominance.

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He had breezed through his opening four matches without dropping a set - extending his own personal best to 37 consecutive sets here - though falling short of Bjorn Borg's all-time record of 41 by losing the opener of his quarter-final against Diego Schwartzman. Could Thiem provide us with a classic final?

For an instant, before it became clear that he could continue, the unthinkable seemed possible. While serving down 4-5, Thiem played an absolutely atrocious game.

"She's one of the players on the women's tour with better movements on court". "And, of course, it was not nice to lose the first set, but still it was not a key point of today". A spate of poor play quickly saw him lose the first three games of the set.

It was more of the same in the second, as Nadal won the opening three games in quick time to take a commanding lead he would never relinquish. One down-the-line forehand victor landed right at the baseline and Thiem's shoulders sagged as he muttered to himself.

Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray - the so-called Big Four - have dominated the men's game to such a degree that Thiem is only the second player now younger than 28 to have reached a major singles final.

The score may have looked rather routine but there was some drama in the third set when Nadal called for the trainer at 2-1, 30-0.

Nadal's form never wavered, though, and soon enough he was celebrating his 17th Grand Slam title overall, second among men only to Roger Federer's 20.

Nadal had come into the year's second Grand Slam high on confidence, after wins in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.

The victory also allowed Nadal, 32, to hold onto the No. 1 ranking, ahead of Federer.

Nadal plans to return to Paris in 2019 and try and clinch a 12th title at Roland Garros.

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