Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Nadal battles through cramp to claim French Open crown

Roger Federer 'In Stuttgart I could make history again' French Open: Rafael Nadal obliterates Dominic Thiem to claim record 11th title
Sidney Guerrero | 11 June, 2018, 12:13

Seventh seed Thiem arrived on a sultry Court Philippe Chatrier with three career wins over Nadal, all on clay, and in an absorbing first set lasting an hour showed why ― going toe-to-toe in some ferocious rallies. Previous year he lost in the opening round to Tommy Haas.

But, what about when Father Time opens up opportunities for the rest of the field? Despite all, he returned and wrapped up the final with 6-2 win in the third set.

This year, Nadal dropped just one set in the entire tournament.

"So coming back and having the chance to win in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, and now especially here, it's very emotional for me".

London has not been a hospitable venue for the world No. 1 in recent years, featuring exits to the likes of Lukas Rosol, Steve Darcis and most recently Gilles Muller, when the Luxembourger beat him in last year's fourth round.

The eight-year age gap between the two made no apparent difference as the master gave his student the ultimate lesson in front of his adoring audience. With the monkey off Halep's back, perhaps this will now spur her on to bigger and better things. But as inevitable as the history-making seems, it never ceases to amaze. With the two tennis giants seemingly approaching something that resembled their best tennis, it's a real pity Williams' right pectoral muscle got in the way. The two players were going for heavy, lung-busting shots.

The number of titles won by Nadal on clay, extending his lead at the top of the men's Open Era leaderboard, ahead of Vilas (49) and Austria's Thomas Muster (40).

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

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"It's one of those days", Shapovalov said after the match.

Nadal had a brief moment of weakness in the first set, when the 24-year-old Austrian broke him in the third game.

"Physically plays a big part today".

The players, male or female, with the next highest number of singles titles at the same major are Martina Navratilova (9, Wimbledon), followed by Roger Federer (8, Wimbledon), Serena Williams (7, Australian Open and Wimbledon), Steffi Graf and Pete Sampras (7, both at Wimbledon), Federer and Novak Djokovic (6, both at the Australian Open), Graf and Bjorn Borg (6, both at the French Open) and Serena (6, US Open).

"I am sure, " Nadal said after the match, "you will win here in the next couple of years".

A dejected Nadal suffered a stunning loss against Robin Soderling at the French Open.

That is the opinion of two-time French Open champion and tennis pundit Jim Courier.

Nadal has won six of his nine matches against Thiem, all of them coming on that famously hard red clay.

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