Paris: Rafael Nadal claimed an 11th French Open title on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 demolition of Dominic Thiem despite a worrying injury scare in the closing stages of the final.
The 32-year-old world number one now has 17 Grand Slam titles, just three behind great rival Roger Federer. Nadal endured a nervy conclusion to the final, however, when he needed treatment in the fourth game of the third set for a finger injury before sealing victory on a fifth match point when Thiem fired a backhand long.
“It’s really incredible. I played a great match against a great player,” said Nadal.
“I had tough moment in the third set with cramps in my hand. I was very scared but that’s sport — it was very humid. To win 11 times here — it’s fantastic and not something I ever dreamed of,” Nadal said.
Nadal joins Australia’s Margaret Court as the only player to win 11 titles at the same major. Victory also took Nadal's record at Roland Garros to 86 wins and just two losses.
For Thiem, playing in his first Slam final, it was a tremendous letdown for a player who is the only man to have beaten the Spaniard on clay in the last two years.
Nadal flew out of the blocks. He reeled off the first six points for a 2-0 lead before Thiem settled and repaired the damage for 2-2. The Austrian speared a 222 km/h ace just for good measure in the fourth game to save a break point.
He saved another two in the 11-minute sixth game. Despite matching Nadal forehand for forehand, Thiem was undone in the 10th game when three errors handed Nadal the opening set after 52 minutes on court.
A wild, misguided forehand sealed his fate, one of 18 unforced errors to Nadal’s 12 in the set. Nadal eventially sealed victory on a fifth match point when the Austrian fired another backhand long.