Same result, different day for French Open champion Rafael Nadal

Monday, 11 Jun, 2018

Rafael Nadal's remarkable Roland Garros reign continued as the world number one clinched an 11th French Open title with a straight-sets win over Dominic Thiem on Sunday.

"Physically I enjoyed more watching him on the couch", smiled Thiem, who was 11 years old when Nadal won his first French Open in 2005.

Only Rafael Nadal truly knows what he saw reflected when he glanced into the belly of the big silver bowl, but as he pressed his 11th French Open championship trophy against his cheek, his face began to crumple.

Thiem, playing in his first Grand Slam final, simply had few answers to Nadal's brilliance.

The pair beat American duo Sam Querrey and Jack Sock in two sets, recording a 6-4 1-6 (10-5) victory to give Team Europe a 9-3 lead.

It will serve as a huge boost for the 20-time Grand Slam victor if he manages to win at Stuttgart and then at Halle the following week for it will enhance his chance of claiming the position of the top seed in Wimbledon. A year ago he lost in the opening round to Tommy Haas. Dominic Thiem showed over the course of this tournament that he is more than ready to take the reins.

Unlike past year - when those first few games realistically settled things - Thiem bounced back, breaking straight away.

Federer (9 at Halle, 8 at Basel) and Argentine clay-court legend Guillermo Vilas (8, Buenos Aires) are the male players with the next highest number of titles at a tournament below Grand Slam level.

Nadal was rampant when he broke early in the second, but Thiem raised his game to force a break point when Nadal served at 4-2 - a game in which the Spaniard was warned for slow play.

Nadal's incredible record in Paris now reads 86 wins and two defeats.

In his entire career on clay, Nadal has a 415-36 record, giving him a winning percentage of 92.0 - the best of any player on any surface in men's tennis history.

"I'm just glad I'm not playing today", said Rosewall in a nod to the raw power of Nadal.

Uncle Toni, no longer his nephew's coach but back in his customary seat on the end of the players' box, two seats down from the current coach, Carlos Moya, summed it up perfectly.

Grass hasn't tended to favour Nadal in recent years, and the return of a fit-again Roger Federer means he'll likely relinquish favourite status in England.

A glimmer of hope was when the middle finger on his left hand started to cramp in the middle of the fourth game, causing him to take a salt tablet and have the strapping on his forearm to be removed, which is there to stop the sweat pouring onto his palms.

That's three behind Federer who is more than four years older.

"Tough moment in the third set when I got a little bit cramped on the hand", Nadal said. To be completely fair, Nadal also needed five match points to close out the 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win.