Rafael Nadal is the King of Clay, bags 11th French Open crown

Jun 11, 2018, 08:33 IST | PA Sport

Rafael Nadal takes his French Open title count to 11 after ruling over Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal is the King of Clay, bags 11th French Open crown
Spain's Rafael Nadal holds The Musketeers' Trophy after defeating Austria's Dominic Thiem in Paris yesterday. Pic/AFP

Rafael Nadal roared to French Open title number 11 with a straight-set demolition of Dominic Thiem yesterday. The Spaniard continued his extraordinary domination at Roland Garros with a ruthless 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory.

Seventh seed Thiem is the only player to have beaten Nadal on clay in the past two years, and he claimed he had a plan to thwart the Spaniard in Paris. But once a competitive first set went the way of the world number one, the plan became damage limitation and Nadal's 'undecima' never looked in any doubt.

Rafael Nadal

Not good enough
It was hard not to feel sympathy for Thiem, playing in his first grand slam final against a man who simply does not lose this particular battle. Nadal's incredible record in Paris now reads 86 wins and two defeats. As if the task was not daunting enough for Thiem, the early signs were even more ominous. The Austrian won just one of the first nine points as Nadal immediately broke for 2-0. But Thiem, unusually standing up to Nadal's first serve, forced two break points in the next game and converted the second with a flashing forehand into the right corner.

It was the only blow he landed all afternoon. Thiem withstood a barrage of break points to hold in a marathon sixth game, which he thought he had won at 40-30 when he left a wide ball, only for the umpire to overrule the line judge.

Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem

Thiem's poor service
But at 4-5 Thiem's serve let him down badly, handing Nadal three set points. Any hopes of an upset all but disappeared along with the ragged Thiem forehand which sailed way beyond the baseline.

Thiem used to hike through the Alps in his homeland as part of his training, but the 24-year-old had an even bigger mountain to climb now. The first set had taken 57 minutes, in stiflingly humid conditions, but there was to be no let-up for the underdog in the second. He saved three break points in his first service game but a wayward backhand ensured Nadal took the fourth. A hold to love showed Thiem had not given up the ghost, however unlikely a repeat of Simona Halep's heroics from the same position a day earlier seemed.

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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