Monday, 22 October, 2018

Rafael Nadal leads Roger Federer after French Open victory

Beads of sweat run from Spain's Rafael Nadal's face as he prepares to serve against Austria's Dominic Thiem in the men's final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadi French Open Men's Singles Day 15: Nadal value to lift the trophy with ease
Cassandra Castillo | 14 June, 2018, 11:42

Only Nadal, Pete Sampras and Ken Rosewall have managed the feat of winning Grand Slam titles in their teens, 20s and 30s.

Thiem, competing in his first major final, was second best in the next set as he was edged out in a gruelling second game for the only break of serve.

"Winning 11 times is definitely one of the best things somebody ever achieved in sport".

He now has 86 match wins on Paris' famous crushed red brick against just two defeats in 13 years.

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).

If anyone had a chance to ruin Nadal's coronation, Thiem couldn't have been better placed to do so.

Tennis Super Star Rafael Nadal has again proved his mantle as the King of Clay.

The Spaniard secured an 11th title at Roland Garros on Sunday and 17th major of his career.

Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts as he plays Austria's Dominic Thiem during the men's final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Sunday

There was the need for the doctor and the physiotherapist in the sixth game of the third set when Nadal felt tightness in his left arm.

"And the fact that I didn't give up after the one past year here [in which she lost in three sets to Jelena Ostapenko] means that I'm strong inside and I do this just because I love this sport".

His picking at the rear of his shorts and mopping of his brow, aligned with his obsessive devotion to lining up his water bottles, are parts of the Nadal DNA. He took the biggest of big cuts on groundstrokes, his feet leaving the ground as he threw his whole body into them, as if the very outcome - not of any individual point, but the whole shebang - depended on the strength of that one whip of his white racket. He wound up with 42 unforced errors to Nadal's 24. Thiem found some life and threatened with a break point in the seventh game, but Nadal broke his pace with a drop shot and finished it off with a passing shot, holding for 5-2. A volley into the net.

Just like that, Nadal was off on a five-game burst to lead 3-0 in the second set. He headed home to Barcelona after being beaten in qualifying, then learned he could sign up for a spot in the field. One down-the-line forehand victor landed right at the baseline, leaving Thiem sagging his shoulders and muttering. He was treated by his trainer and soon took on the court to make it 6-2 in the third and final set. I am enjoying that moment. I couldn't move the finger. Nadal said last week that he wanted to keep playing for a while, and if his body co-operates, 15 seems like a realistic possibility. "Dominic is an opponent who is very aggressive, very hard to play, with big shots".

The Austrian speared a 222 kilometers per hour ace just for good measure in the fourth game to save a break point.

"To me it's still been two great weeks", Thiem told the Philippe Chatrier centre court and his opponent.

Thiem was considered the stiffest test for Nadal at the French Open and understandably so.

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