Rafael Nadal’s remarkable Roland Garros reign continued as the world number one clinched an 11th French Open title with a straight-sets win over Dominic Thiem on Sunday.
Thiem is the only man to have beaten Nadal on clay over the past two seasons, including a surprise victory in the Madrid Open quarter-finals last month, but there was no repeat shock on Court Philippe Chatrier as the top seed prevailed 6-4 6-3 6-2.
Nadal’s latest triumph in Paris sees him join Margaret Court, who dominated the Australian Open in the 1960s and 70s, as the only player to win 11 singles titles at one grand slam.
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.
Nadal has not lost at Roland Garros when taking the first set and that record did not look like coming under threat as he continually rebuffed Thiem’s attempts to make inroads into his serve, taking the second courtesy of an early break.
Thiem’s fighting spirit was evident in abundance – he continued to put pressure on Nadal through his return game, while consistently scrapping to stave off perilous positions on his own serve – but ultimately the Spaniard’s quality and, often, his sheer force of will, won the day.
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.