Nadal Cements Status as King Of Clay with 11th French Open Win
Rafael Nadal justified his status as the French Open’s pre-event favourite by making it Roland Garros title number 11 with a straight-sets win over Dominic Thiem.
Nadal powered through his Austrian opponent with a display of complete dominance, with the win arguably his best performance of a fortnight in which he was severely tested by rivals who were prepared to slug it out with the Spaniard.
Nadal dropped only the one set on route to victory, but he had to work extremely hard to claim others and it was one of his toughest tournaments on the Paris clay.
Thiem is viewed by many in the game as the heir apparent to Nadal on clay, and the Austrian will derive benefit from competing in his first grand slam final.
But it may be a while before Nadal relinquishes his title as the King of Clay, as he overwhelmed his opponent in a 6-4 6-3 6-2 success.
Austrian youngster Thiem has a power game, but he came up against the master of clay who absorbed everything thrown at him with his brilliant defence and then shifted the momentum in the blink of an eye to take control of points.
Thiem could not live with Nadal, whose only real moment of alarm came when he was two sets and a break up in the third. At 30-love up in the game, the number one seed summoned the trainer on court to treat him for cramp in his serving hand. It was a moment of high drama as the crowd briefly felt something serious was wrong with the Spaniard.
“It was a cramping on the finger but not a normal cramping,” Nadal told the French Open’s official website. “Probably because I had the bandage here, it created pressure that probably didn’t allow the right circulation.
“For me it was scary, because I felt that I was not able to move the hand, the finger. I was not under control.”
The treatment worked and Nadal was able to close out the match and clinch his 17th grand slam title.
It was a punishing fortnight for the 32-year-old and he’s likely to take a little time off before embarking on chasing down Roger Federer who sits atop the tennis tree with 20 grand slams.
Time may be ticking down on the careers of both men, but Nadal is not planning on taking his foot off the gas any time soon.
“You can always improve something, I think that everyone can improve,” he said. “There is no limit. You never know where is the limit.”
For anyone who has felt the full force of Nadal during his 11 French Open wins, those will be tough words to mull over.