Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem to win 12th French Open title

Rafael Nadal beat Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros to claim his 12th French Open crown and 18th grand slam title

Rafael Nadal, hair thinning, legs slowing imperceptibly but genius intact, remains unbeatable on the clay of Roland Garros. Not even a spirited challenge by the world No 4, Dominic Thiem, could stop the 33-year-old Spaniard winning the French Open for a 12th time on Sunday, a feat unlikely to be matched in their lifetimes, if ever.

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For two sets the 25-year-old Austrian made a proper fight of it. But Nadal responded to the threat by tearing through the final two sets like the wind that has disrupted the schedule over the past few days to win 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 in three hours.

In his previous 11 finals only a handful of players have detained him longer than Thiem: Mariano Puerta on Nadals winning debut as a teenager in 2005, Roger Federer three times and Novak Djokovic in his toughest final, seven years ago. But a string of dazzled contenders have fallen with embarrassing haste most notably Federer, when Nadal took only an hour and 48 minutes in allowing him only four games in 2008.

On Sunday, Court Philippe Chatrier was Nadals again, and for ever. There surely is a case to rename the stadium or some part of Roland Garros after the Spaniard when he retires. He owns the place metaphorically and spiritually already.

It is incredible. I am very, very happy, Nadal said. It is something very special. It is difficult to imagine winning so much in the same place, particularly here at Roland Garros. You cannot say it is a dream, because I never dreamed of such a thing.

Nadal confirmed later that long-term and recurring injuries eased just long enough for him to compete here. I have had a very difficult year with a lot of physical problems. One month ago I didnt even know I would be here. For me, the simple fact of having tried, having trained well in the last weeks to come back, is my biggest satisfaction.

Nadal is the only player to win a dozen grand slam titles on the same court (Margaret Court won her 12 Australian Open titles at different venues), which also puts him four clear of Federers eight championships at Wimbledon and Novak Djokovics seven in Melbourne. Nadal moves to 18 majors, two behind Federer, three ahead of Djokovic.

But Nadal says he is content with what he has achieved. You cannot be thinking one more all the time, otherwise you are never happy. You want more money, a bigger house, a new boat, an even prettier girlfriend! You cannot be happy like that I dont like the frustration. You have to thank life for all that it gives you.

For the foreseeable future the games four biggest prizes remain the property of the old guard. The Big Three of Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have shared 10 successive grand slam titles. The last player outside the exclusive club to disturb their hegemony was Stan Wawrinka, who defeated Djokovic to win the 2016 US Open.

This was Nadals 950th win on the Tour, behind Federer on 1,207 victories, Jimmy Connors on 1,156 and Ivan Lendl on 1,096. It was his 260th match win in a slam tournament; only Federer (347) and Djokovic (270) have more. Two people have beaten him here: Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009 and Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals. Otherwise, 93 opponents have fallen to his power and guile.

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They are daunting numbers that Thiem simply did not want to think about when he stepped on to the historic court to face Nadal in the final for the second year running. Having outlasted Djokovic over two days during a match hit by rain and high winds, he did not show any appreciable signs of fatigue until the closing few games of the match, by which time the result was inevitable.

The beginning was unbelievably intense, Thiem said. He got the first break point, outsmarting the king of Paris in a high-grade exchange in the fifth game and he cashed in with a smash at the net. But, just as it looked as if the Spaniard had a fight on his hands, Thiems racket shook and they were back on level terms.

Nadal answered a drop shot with a better one of his own, grabbed two break points and, after forcing a tired forehand out of Thiem, served out the set.

Nadals concentration dipped in the second as they battled on level terms to four-all, before Thiem won 12 points in a row on his way to levelling at a set apiece. It looked a very even contest at that point but Hurricane Rafa struck hard and fast, forehands whipped with venom from all parts. He allowed Thiem just a single point in the first nine minutes of the third set and the former champion Mats Wilander was moved to observe: I dont know if you can play tennis any better than this.

The fourth was much of the same, although Thiems doggedness was admirable. Desperation invaded his work at 1-4 down, however, and Nadal served out the match to 30, before descending to the clay, where he has never looked so at home.

As Thiem succinctly put it: He stepped on me.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific

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