Federer returned from a five-year Grand Slam drought to beat Nadal in last year's Australian Open final, then won an eighth Wimbledon and retained the Australian title in January, beating Marin Cilic in the final on both occasions.
For the second year running, Federer opted against playing at the French Open to spare his knees, but will be the favorite to win Wimbledon next month and re-establish a four Grand Slam gap over Nadal on the list of all-time collectors of major titles.
The Spaniard, who turned 32 during his Roland Garros fortnight, was once again at his grinding, unflinching, un-giving best as he downed Thiem 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in Sunday's final.
Thiem, playing in his first Grand Slam final, simply had few answers to Nadal's brilliance.
Dominic Thiem was vying for his first Grand Slam title on Sunday.
That's three behind Federer who is more than four years older.
Nadal, who dropped just 24 points on his serve in the two hours and 42 minutes it took him to dispose of his adversary, required treatment in the fourth game of the third set for a finger injury but that was a rare moment of concern for him on a day when he simply overpowered Thiem.
There was late anxiety for Nadal as the predicted thunderstorms loomed and he needed his left forearm massaged after beginning to suffer from cramp.
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Others highlighted Nadal's remarkable record at Roland Garros since first winning the title there in 2005.
The Austrian is one of just three players to down Nadal on clay at least three times.
Across the last 12 months on clay, Nadal has held serve 88.7% to Thiem's 85.7% (3.0% edge) while breaking opponents 50.0% to 30.1% (19.9% edge), and this incredible advantage he has on return was a big factor in me pricing Nadal as a [1.17] favourite to lift the trophy today.
"Not that I did that past year, but on grass margins are very slim and it's not so simple, especially when you haven't played for three months".
Halep, Caroline Wozniacki and Garbine Muguruza remained the WTA's top three, but French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens went from No 10 to a career-high No 4. "I don't know", Toni Nadal said.
Two of the Spaniard's 17 Grand Slam titles came on the All England Club's lawns, but the 32-year-old has struggled to make an impact there in recent years.
Until 4-all, 15-all in the opening set, to be precise.
"All in all", Stephens said, "I don't think anyone can complain". Thiem making unforced errors. Another forehand victor from Nadal found a corner, and Thiem yelled toward his coach.
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.