Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem for 11th French Open title

Having just turned 32, Rafael Nadal is unlikely to win 20 French Opens. But how about 15?He began that quest S...

Posted: Jun 11, 2018 11:39 AM
Updated: Jun 11, 2018 11:39 AM

Having just turned 32, Rafael Nadal is unlikely to win 20 French Opens. But how about 15?

He began that quest Sunday, winning his record-extending 11th title on the clay at Roland Garros and 17th major overall with a 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory over his spirited but ultimately vanquished challenger, Dominic Thiem.

Nadal wins 6-4 6-3 6-2

Second player ever to win 11 titles at same major

Thiem lost in his first grand slam final

"It's definitely one of the best things somebody ever achieved in sport," Thiem told reporters.

Nadal also became the second tennis player ever to win 11 titles at the same major, joining Margaret Court. Court won 11 on home soil at the Australian Open, the last coming near the start of the Open Era in 1973.

The French Open isn't Nadal's home slam but it might as well be.

"Memories are forever, and I have incredible memories of this event," he told reporters. "I don't want to start explaining all the memories that I have, because they are so long. But since the first time that I came here until today is a love story with this event, not only with the victories, but this is all about the people who are working the event, too."

Considered to be declining two years ago, Nadal and friendly rival Roger Federer have now won the last six grand slams.

"We have two of the greatest of all time in one era," summed up James Blake, who beat both Nadal and Federer prior to retiring. "It's fun to see how they match up and how they keep pushing each other."

Nadal moved, once again, to within three grand slams of the Swiss. Nadal's uncle and longtime former traveling coach Toni -- who returned to watch his nephew Sunday -- said essentially that only time will tell whether Federer can be caught. He also was aware that Federer might go four clear of Nadal in a month at Wimbledon.

But Nadal himself wasn't too bothered.

"I never have been crazy about all this kind of stuff," he told reporters, and not for the first time when asked about matching the 36-year-old. "No, you can't be frustrated always if somebody have more money than you, if somebody have a bigger house than you, if somebody have more grand slams than you. You can't live with that feeling, no? You have to do your way.

"And then you have to be happy with the things that are happening to you, no? I happy that other people have things, and I am very satisfied, and I feel very lucky with all the things that happened to me."

Tennis is lucky to have Nadal. On Friday, Thiem's coach Gunter Bresnik called him the best competitor of all time in any sport. Off the court, Nadal never lacks in humility.

Sunday's score might have looked rather routine but there was some drama in the third set in sticky Paris when Nadal called for the trainer at 2-1, 30-0. It turned out to be for a cramp in a left finger that left him temporarily unable to serve with much pace.

Taking tablets later during a changeover, Nadal didn't seem all that troubled and was able to complete the job on the court he owns, Philippe-Chatrier. Nor did a warning for taking too much time between points bother the left-hander.

When Thiem sent a return long on a fifth match point, Nadal raised his arms in celebration. Holding the trophy during the awards ceremony, he wept.

Despite wracking up one title after another in Paris, it clearly still means plenty to the world No. 1. Nadal said last week that he wanted to keep playing for a while, and if his body co-operates, 15 seems like a realistic possibility.

Strongest challenger

Thiem was considered the stiffest test for Nadal at the French Open and understandably so.

The Austrian is one of only three players to down Nadal on clay at least three times; the world No. 8 was the last man to overcome Nadal on clay, last month in Madrid.

But that's the best-of-three sets and in different, faster conditions.

Over the best-of-five sets on clay in 13 years, Nadal improved to 111-2 -- a figure almost as imposing as the nearby Eiffel Tower -- his lone reverses coming against Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015 at the French Open.

"If you win a grand slam tournament 11 times, one single one, then this is just very exceptional and amazing," said Thiem. "You need to have, I think, many extraordinary skills and talents and work ethics to achieve that."

Thiem -- competing in his first grand slam final after a pair of semifinal showings in Paris -- needed to win the first set to have any realistic opportunity of ending Nadal's reign.

Why? Nadal was 95-0 when capturing the opener on clay in the best of five format.

Slow starts have plagued Nadal in several of his matches this fortnight, most notably against 11th-seed Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals. He lost the first set -- the only one he actually dropped -- then turned things around following a rain delay. He was visited by the trainer that day, too, with Nadal saying it was to prevent sweat from traveling to his hand.

But against Thiem, there was nothing wrong with Nadal's start. He won the first six points and broke for 2-0.

His lead was reminiscent of their semifinal at the French Open last year, when Nadal also held the early advantage.

Thiem's start

Unlike last year -- when those first few games realistically settled matters -- Thiem bounced back, breaking straight away.

The problem for the 24-year-old was that his serve wasn't co-operating. Serving at less than 50% in the first, Nadal got plenty of looks at second serves. Overall the tally was a mere 58%.

Thiem dug in -- especially in the roughly 13-minute sixth game -- but he crumbled attempting to stay in the set, making four unforced errors.

"In general, it was -- game wise -- a good game. It was just terrible misses," said Thiem. Perhaps inexperience.

In a 10-minute second game of the second set, Thiem suffered more trauma. He dropped serve on a fifth break chance.

He however was able to hold serve regularly in the midway stages of the second and even had a chance to get back on serve, but his opening at 2-4 evaporated when Nadal struck a sublime drop shot, then passing shot.

Nadal faced only three break points in the two hour, 42-minute affair.

Thiem now needed to win three straight sets against Nadal on clay -- and the lone person to do that was Djokovic in their 2015 quarterfinal.

He courageously saved three break points to start the third, yet stumbled in his ensuing service game.

Seemingly cruising to victory, that's when Nadal called for the trainer, the second time he did it at the French Open mid-game. On the other, against Paul Henri Mathieu in 2006, a piece of banana got stuck in his throat.

Visit our tennis page for more news, videos and content

Nadal is one of the best frontrunners around and indeed there was no choke on the way. He continued to pummel his ground strokes to further inflict woe on Thiem.

"When someone wins 11 times here, for me it's unbelievable to think about this," said uncle Toni.

Thiem, though, knows he isn't the only player to have succumbed to Nadal at the French Open. And the way Nadal is playing on the clay, he won't be the last.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307449

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20772248
Hinds19888408
Harrison17489302
Rankin13311275
Jackson13097243
Madison9895210
Lee9856169
Jones8290160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7187237
Lowndes6262144
Lamar610584
Lafayette6027117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4419139
Warren4280118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403675
Neshoba3987176
Lincoln3869108
Hancock372085
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3180104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265779
Wayne261341
Leake261073
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120041
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81823
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518899

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753641487
Mobile37763798
Madison33859494
Tuscaloosa25266443
Montgomery23962565
Shelby23106238
Baldwin20631300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14284311
Morgan14139268
Etowah13662345
Marshall11957219
Houston10380278
Elmore9993200
Limestone9811147
Cullman9470188
St. Clair9426234
Lauderdale9215227
DeKalb8746181
Talladega8058171
Walker7087275
Jackson6754110
Autauga6723103
Blount6483135
Colbert6203130
Coffee5399112
Dale4767110
Russell428838
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia387674
Dallas3527149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256258
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218775
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171440
Washington164038
Macon154548
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 81°
Columbus
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 80°
Oxford
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 79°
Starkville
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 79°
Sunshine continues into the work week with temperatures climbing well above average on Monday. But as clouds increase with slight rain chances into mid-week, we may see temperatures a bit cooler than average toward the end of the week.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather