Thursday, 19 July, 2018

Rafael Nadal claims record-extending 11th French Open crown

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates by kissing the trophy after winning the final against Austria's Dominic Thiem. Benoit Tessier Reuters Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates by kissing the trophy after winning the final against Austria's Dominic Thiem. Benoit Tessier Reuters
Sidney Guerrero | 12 June, 2018, 13:25

When he was recovering from injury this year, for the umpteenth time in his career, he was focused on this title and nothing - certainly not Dominic Thiem - was going to stand in his way. Nadal, however, soon recovered to complete the match.

Juan Martin del Potro, who was run ragged by the world number one on Court Philippe Chatrier in this year's semi-finals, was right to state that it's nearly impossible to beat Nadal on clay.

The 32-year-old Spaniard was playing his 11th French Open final, while Thiem was featuring in his maiden Grand Slam final. I played my best match of the tournament, it's unbelievable and I'm very happy'.

"If you tell me seven, eight years ago that I will be here at 32 years old having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something nearly impossible, but here we are".

That shock exit prompted speculation that Nadal was finished as a heavyweight of the sport.

"Life is never clear". I am not this kind of person. This, though, is Nadal's court, the place he has dominated like no other.

His idiosyncrasies are just as charming to his supporters. That was part of a five-game run that sent Nadal on his way. Two players have succeeded in defeating him, and his body let him down on a third occasion.

The younger challengers struggle to land a punch, and the last six men's Grand Slam titles have now gone in the sequence of Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal.

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He has now also joined Federer and Novak Djokovic in passing the $100 million prize money barrier.

Nadal stepped into the professional world of tennis at the age of 15. Nadal -5.5 games is available on the Exchange at [1.68] and given the fact that Nadal has tended to dominate Thiem on non-quick clay, this should be a very likely outcome if Nadal wins the final.

Thiem beat Nadal on clay twice, including last month in Madrid that ended Nadal's 21-match winning streak on clay and his streak of 50 straight sets won on his favorite surface.

At 19, he won the 2005 French Open on his debut. He didn't need to win the tournament to prove that, but he did it anyway with the sovereignty of a champion. Maybe, just maybe, fans could get an entertaining French Open final-something that has been sorely lacking in this era of Nadal's absolute dominance.

The best? Roger Federer, of course, who's made 30 Grand Slam finals and won 20 of them.

Even this year, injury has continued to hound Nadal with a hip problem forcing him to quit his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic.

Federer (9 at Halle, 8 at Basel) and Argentine clay-court legend Guillermo Vilas (8, Buenos Aires) are the male players with the next highest number of titles at a tournament below Grand Slam level.

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