Rafael Nadal duly collected his 11th French Open title here on Sunday with a brutal, brilliant, resilient and ruthless performance, just as he had done 10 times before.
- Dominic Thiem jokes that it was easier watching Nadal's French Open finals from home as a child rather than facing him on court.
The number of Grand Slam singles titles now held by Nadal, who is second on the all-time list among men in the Open Era, behind Federer (20), and ahead of Pete Sampras (14), Djokovic and Roy Emerson (12 each).
Rafal Nadal admits he harbours ambitions of catching Roger Federer's Grand Slam haul but insists he's not obsessed in his pursuit of the 36-year-old's trophy total.
The Spaniard has proved unbeatable at Roland Garros ever since taking part in his first tournament back in 2005.
He led by two sets plus a break early in the third when the middle finger on his racket-wielding left hand was cramping so badly he couldn't straighten it.
For me, you know, 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.
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Thiem was considered the stiffest test for Nadal at the French Open and understandably so.
"It's unbelievable, I can't describe my feelings because it's not even a dream to win here 11 times", said an emotional Nadal after the final. "What you did and what you are doing is the most outstanding thing that any athlete can achieve in sport".
But Thiem, unusually standing up to Nadal's first serve, forced two break points in the next game and converted the second with a flashing forehand into the right corner. 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?"
Nadal had never lost in the 112 best-of-five-set matches in which he had won the opening set and Thiem dropped serve early in the second with another over-cooked backhand. Midway through the opening set, Nadal's aqua T-shirt was so soaked with sweat it stuck to him. A volley into the net.
"I am just trying to keep enjoying, and I gonna keep playing until my body resist, and my happiness still high playing tennis".
By then, Nadal was finding his spots.
Understandably, Thiem looked edgy as the match begun and he managed to win only one of the first eight points as Nadal, cheered loudly when he walked on court, bristled with intent.