Monday, 20 August, 2018

Nadal still untouchable as he claims 11th French title

Rafael Nadal Nadal still untouchable as he claims 11th French title
Isaac Mcdaniel | 11 June, 2018, 07:46

In the other semi-final, Marco Cecchinato's odd run in the last two weeks was ended by Dominic Thiem, also in straight sets, although the first two sets were somewhat closer than anything Del Potro could muster.

Rafael Nadal, the 10-time champion only stands in the Austrian's path of winning a major in his first ever slam final. Thiem broke the Spaniard's serve in the third game of the match, nullifying Nadal's early break but earned only one more break point - which was saved by Nadal.

If there were any reason for a bit of intrigue entering Sunday's match, it was this: Thiem is the only person to beat Nadal on red clay over the past two seasons, doing so at Rome in May 2017 and at Madrid last month.

The 32-year-old Spaniard is only the second player to hold the record, after Margaret Court had won the Australian women's singles title 11 times.

He said it was because he had started the clay-court season with "some doubts" before going on to win a record-extending 11th title at Roland Garros. His first Grand Slam doesn't come around every week so he had better make the most of it.

The signs were already ominous for Thiem at that stage because in 112 best-of-five-set matches, Nadal had never lost after taking the first set.

Nadal, meanwhile, continued to underline his dominance in Paris, clinching his 11th French Open crown with a straight-sets win over Dominic Thiem.

Rafael Nadal celebrates his 11th French Open win.

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Nadal celebrated in relatively low key fashion, but then there is not much novelty value in this.

This year, in Madrid where the courts are faster and the flies through the air because of the altitude, Thiem launched a heavy-handed attack against Nadal and emerged a 7-5, 6-3 victor.

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.

Written off as fading forces two years ago, Nadal, 32, and Roger Federer, approaching 37, have won the last six Grand Slam titles between them. In the fourth game of the third set, he had the physio attend to his left hand because a finger cramp was making it hard for him to grip the racquet.

"I'd love to have 20 like Roger in the future or more, but it is not something in my mind".

Although Nadal subsequently received treatment on his forearm it seemingly had little adverse effect and, after a second break of serve, his 11th triumph was secured at the fifth time of asking when Thiem sent a return long.

Thiem has beaten Nadal twice recently, so an upset was not out of the question.

By contrast, Thiem was competing in his maiden major final and although he matched his illustrious opponent for large parts of the opening set, he crumbled at the crunch and never really regained his poise.

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