Rafael Nadal clinches 11th French Open title in ‘Claywalk’

World number one Rafael Nadal claimed his eleventh title at Roland Garros, defeating Dominic Thiem in straight sets on Sunday.

The score may have looked rather routine but there was some drama in the third set when Nadal called for the trainer at 2-1, 30-0.

Nadal is the only second player in history to win the same Grand Slam on 11 occasions after Margaret Court, who won 11 Australian Open titles between 1960 and 1973.

Thiem is the only player to have beaten Nadal on clay in the last two years after wins in Madrid this year and Rome in 2017.

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.

Nadal, 32, won 6-4 6-3 6-2 to earn his 17th Grand Slam, three adrift of Roger Federer's all-time men's record.

Nadal ended a three-year Grand Slam drought with a brilliant performance against Stan Wawrinka in the 2017 French Open final.

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Thiem stayed with Nadal in the early going on a cloudy and steamy afternoon; the temperature was 77 degrees (24 Celsius), the humidity approached 70 per cent.

In a 10-minute second game of the second set, Thiem suffered more trauma. He persists at his punishing physicality and pounding shots even 13 long and grinding years after the wonder from the Spanish island of Mallorca debuted at Roland Garros with sleeveless shirts, clam-digger shorts, shoulder-length hair and MMA muscles, and, two days after his 19th birthday, won his first title and said, "I fight every point, every point, no?"

It was more of the same in the second, as Nadal won the opening three games in quick time to take a commanding lead he would never relinquish.

A wild, misguided forehand sealed his fate, one of 18 unforced errors to Nadal's 12 in the set. Midway through the opening set, Nadal's aqua T-shirt was so soaked with sweat it stuck to him. A forehand wide. A forehand into the net.

Once he moved two sets ahead it merely became a race against time for Nadal to finish the match off before the rain arrived.

Soon, Nadal was finding his spots. One down-the-line forehand victor landed right at the baseline, leaving Thiem sagging his shoulders and muttering. Another forehand victor from Nadal followed, and this time Thiem looked up toward his coach and yelled. Those conditions might have contributed to the cramping that affected Nadal about two hours into the final, at 2-1 in the third set.

"But if you win a Grand Slam tournament 11 times, one single one, then this is just very exceptional and fantastic".

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