Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem for 11th French Open title

Rafael Nadal

Nadal clinched an 11th French Open with a 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory against Dominic Thiem on Sunday to take his majors total to 17.

Having also beaten him in Rome last year, he is the only man to defeat Nadal on clay in the past two years, and the way he had played on the way to the final threatened to make it a classic match.

The 32-year-old world No. 1 now has 17 Grand Slam titles, just three behind great rival Roger Federer.

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.

Thiem - competing in his first grand slam final after a pair of semifinal showings in Paris - needed to win the first set to have any realistic opportunity of ending Nadal's reign.

Thiem was the only player to have defeated Nadal on clay prior to Roland Garros for the second straight year, and his quarterfinal victory over Nadal at the Madrid Masters snapped the Spaniard's 50-set winning streak on clay.

Thiem used to hike through the Alps in his homeland as part of his training, but the 24-year-old had an even bigger mountain to climb now.

A gracious Thiem said: "I can still remember being 11 when (Nadal) won here for the first time and I watched on the TV". Those conditions might have contributed to the cramping that affected Nadal about two hours into the final, at 2-1 in the third set.

Austria's Dominic Thiem in action during the final against Spain's Rafael Nadal.

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German footballer Mario Gotze - who is not in Russian Federation with the national team but who scored the winning goal for his team in the final in Brazil four years ago - also paid tribute to Nadal.

Once he moved two sets ahead it merely became a race against time for Nadal to finish the match off before the rain arrived. Over the course of four games-from 4-5 in the first set to 0-3 in the second-Nadal won 20 points. Across the other slow-medium clay venues - Monte Carlo, Barcelona and here - Nadal has utterly schooled Thiem.

"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".

"To win 11 times here - it's fantastic and not something I ever dreamed of".

"Of course I would love to have 20 like Roger in the future or even more, but it's not something that is on my mind".

Nadal has won six of his nine matches against Thiem, all of them coming on that famously hard red clay. Nadal appeared to take more tablets.

The number of consecutive sets won on clay by Nadal, breaking the previous record for most consecutive sets won on a single surface by McEnroe, who won 49 on carpet in 1984. That did not stop him from taking the sixth game after some treatment.

As Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports notes, men have not always been the bigger draws as Grand Slam events.

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