King of Clay Rafael Nadal won a 12th French Open title against a man tipped to be the heir to his throne, beating Dominic Thiem in a four-set battle on Sunday afternoon.
It was one of the sterner tests of the Spaniards 14-year stint at Roland Garros, with Prince of Clay Thiem taking a set off him in a contest where both bludgeoned the ball throughout.
Ultimately, as has been the case in all of Nadals previous 11 finals on his favourite court, Nadal triumphed, winning 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 in three hours and one minute. He fell to the clay in delight as Thiem sent the final groundstroke long.
In doing so, the world No. 2 doubled Bjorn Borgs total of titles at the clay-court Slam. The Swede has amassed the second-highest number of French crowns on the mens side in the Open Era.
Nadal also edged closer to Roger Federers total of 20 Grand Slam titles, moving up to 18, while cashing more than a cool £2million for his troubles. Not bad for a fortnights work.
Thiem – who defeated world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in five sets in the semi-finals – will also leave with a not too shabby £1m and a sense hes getting closer to an elusive first Grand Slam win. He has proven himself to be the biggest threat to the ongoing Big Three dynasty.
Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have won the last 10 majors between them, with Thiem the only active man under the age of 28 to have even reached a major final.
The Austrian performed especially admirably considering he had played four days on the spin to conclude the tournament, with his semi-final against Djokovic spanning across Friday and Saturdaay. Nadal, meanwhile, enjoyed a full day of rest after a routine semi-final win against Federer.
But as he has been keen to point out himself in the past, there is nothing routine about this achievement. The 33-year-old holds more titles in Paris than any other player – man or woman – has managed at a Grand Slam event, moving beyond Margaret Courts effort of 11 titles in Australia.
Never has someone dominated a Grand Slam quite so ruthlessly. You wouldnt bet against there being more to come.
While Thiem was welcomed warmly to court by the Parisian crowd, it paled in comparison to the welcome for the King of Clay.
The fluorescent yellow shirted Nadal drew another large cry from the crowd as he engaged in his trademark sprint to the back of the court, while the announcer crowed out each year he had triumphed previously at Roland Garros with delight; the supporters lapped it up.
In otherwise deathly silence, the opening point was accompanied by a crying child up in the gods. A thumping Nadal forehand winner urged the crowd to drown out the wailing babe.
The toddler continued their relentless screaming and prompted a delay on Nadals serve ahead of the third point of the match, before eventually being carried out of the Chatrier stands. Nadal held to 30.
For Thiem to hold in his opening service game was an achievement in itself. Nadal had broken each of his previous six opponents at this years tournament at the first attempt.
Few shots fly through the air quite like the Thiem backhand at full pelt. “Ooohs” and “Ahhhs” echoed around the main show court as the Austrian rifled two consecutive high-velocity strokes to batter Nadal off the court, but his touch has improved no end, too. A sumptuous drop-shot produced similar emotions from the fans on his way to a second hold for 2-2 after 21 minutes.
In the next game, Thiem set up the first break point at the net. Darting side to side at the net with Nadal taking aim, the Austrian then sorted his feet quickly to retreat and fire past a monstrous forehand winner. His remarkable power was on show again as he broke, sending Nadal wide with a lethal forehand before smashing home an easy overhead.
A poor service game, finished with a terrific angled forehand from Nadal, saw Thiem fail to consolidate his lead; pegged back to 3-3 after 33 minutes.
Nadal dodged another break as Thiem netted a backhand return and despite Thiem toying with him with a drop-shot and lob – which prompted a desperate swing and a miss from the Spaniard as he looked to hook the ball over his heaRead More – Source