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Rafael Nadal wins French Open final

World No.1 held off Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to win his 11th French Open men’s singles crown

  • Spain's Rafael Nadal poses with the Mousquetaires Cup (The Musketeers) after his victory in the men's Image Credit: AFP
  • Rafael Nadal in action during the French Open final against Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros, Paris.Image Credit: REUTERS
  • Austria's Dominic Thiem in action during the French Open final against Spain's Rafael Nadal at Roland Image Credit: REUTERS
  • Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning the final against Austria's Dominic Thiem
    Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning the final against Austria's Dominic Thiem.Image Credit: Reuters
  • Austria's Dominic Thiem in action during the French Open final against Spain's Rafael Nadal at Roland Image Credit: REUTERS
  • Rafael Nadal plays a forehand return to Austria's Dominic Thiem at the French Open
    Rafael Nadal plays a forehand return to Austria's Dominic Thiem at the French Open Image Credit: AFP
  • Dominic Thiem returns the ball to Rafael Nadal
    Dominic Thiem returns the ball to Rafael Nadal at the French Open tennis tournament in ParisImage Credit: AFP
  • Rafael Nadal wipes his face as he plays Dominic Thiem
    Rafael Nadal wipes his face as he plays Dominic Thiem during the men's final match of the French Open on JImage Credit: AP
  • Rafael Nadal plays a backhand return to Austria's Dominic Thiem
    During their men's singles final match at the French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 10, 2018.Image Credit: AFP

Paris: Rafael Nadal claimed an 11th French Open title on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 demolition of Dominic Thiem despite a worrying injury scare in the closing stages of the final.

The 32-year-old world number one now has 17 Grand Slam titles, just three behind great rival Roger Federer.

"It's really incredible. I played a great match against a great player," said Nadal,
"I had tough moment in the third set with cramps in my hand. I was very scared but that's sport - it was very humid."

"To win 11 times here - it's fantastic and not something I ever dreamed of," he said.

At 2-1 in the fourth set, Nadal stopped serving during a game because he couldn't straighten his left middle finger. At the following changeover, Nadal was given a salt pill by a doctor and had his left forearm massaged by a trainer.

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

The victory also allowed the 32-year-old Spaniard to hold onto the No. 1 ranking.

With a celebrity audience - including actors Hugh Grant and Tim Roth as well as French stars Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin - watching, Nadal flew out of the blocks.

He reeled off the first six points for a 2-0 lead before Thiem settled and repaired the damage for 2-2.

The Austrian speared a 222 km/h ace just for good measure in the fourth game to save a break point.

He saved another two in the 11-minute sixth game, a performance cheered by the crowd who briefly became more animated when glum-looking French football icon Zinedine Zidane was spotted in the stadium.

Despite matching Nadal forehand for forehand, Thiem was undone in the 10th game when three errors handed Nadal the opening set after 52 minutes on court.

A wild, misguided forehand sealed his fate, one of 18 unforced errors to Nadal's 12 in the set.

In their previous nine meetings, all on clay, the man who took the opening set went on to win the match.

That scenario loomed again with Nadal going to 2-0 in the second set on a fifth break point as Thiem fired another backhand wide.

Thiem wasted a break point in the seventh game as Nadal collected a time violation for taking too long to serve.

The world number one saved it and went on to secure a two sets lead when yet another backhand from the Austrian drifted wide.

Thiem was under the cosh, saving four break points in the first game of the third set before Nadal inevitably broke for 2-1.

Bizarrely, Nadal then halted playing in the fourth game complaining of pain in his left hand and stretching his middle finger.

He still won the game anyway before summoning the doctor and trainer courtside.

Whatever the problem, his dominance remained and a love game took him to 4-2 before he eventially sealed victory on a fifth match point when the Austrian fired another backhand long.

The No. 7-seeded Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria, was appearing in a major final for the first time. Not much more of a daunting task than doing so against Nadal at the French Open, where he is now 11-0 in finals and 86-2 overall.

If there were any reason for a bit of intrigue entering Sunday's match, it was this: Thiem is the only person to beat Nadal on red clay over the past two seasons, doing so at Rome in May 2017 and at Madrid last month.

Taking on Nadal at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament is a whole other challenge. Thiem stayed with Nadal in the early going on a steamy afternoon.

But from 4-all in the opening set, Nadal grabbed five games in a row and was in charge.

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