Nadal in heaven with title No. 11 in Paris

Aubrey Yates
June 11, 2018

Playing the King of Clay at the French Open is akin to scaling Mont Blanc without ropes and even an intrepid adventurer from Europe's Alpine heartland found it a peak too steep as Rafael Nadal stormed to an 11th men's singles title at Roland Garros.

The Austrian - 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.

Nadal had come into the year's second Grand Slam high on confidence, after wins in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.

"But having said that Rafa is 32 now, although not that he looks weaker or older, but throughout this tournament he has not looked his very best".

Nadal called on the trainer to get his forearms massaged twice in the final set but even that problem failed to improve Thiem's chances of emulating fellow Austrian Thomas Muster's 1995 triumph.

79 is the number of career titles that Nadal presently holds, which is fourth in the all-time list behind Jimmy Connors (109), Federer (97), and Ivan Lendl (94). Whether it was at the Masters tournaments in Monte Carlo, Madrid, or Rome-whether it was his home tournament in Barcelona-Nadal nearly never lost on the Spaniard. Nadal's introduction included a year-by-year accounting of every time he'd already won the French Open.

Nadal -5.5 games is available on the Exchange at [1.68] and given the fact that Nadal has tended to dominate Thiem on non-quick clay, this should be a very likely outcome if Nadal wins the final.

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Spain's Rafael Nadal is victorious over his 11th French Open win.

Nadal broke serve early in all three sets against the only player who had beaten him on clay over the past two seasons.

Dominic Thiem was vying for his first Grand Slam title on Sunday.

A forehand long. Just like that, Nadal was off on a five-game run that put him up 3-0 in the second set. At one point finally, Thiem tried going around the post in the penultimate game, just after a Nadal cross-court backhand return seared so close over the net cord that it made the Parisians murmur.

He set his jaw and stared off into space, downcast, as the love poured down for Nadal after the match, but managed a smile when Nadal predicted he would win a championship here.

There was no disguising what it still means to him, though, as the tears welled up after being handed the Coupe des Mousquetaires from former great Ken Rosewall.

He led by two sets plus a break early in the third when the middle finger on his racket-wielding left hand was cramping so badly he couldn't straighten it. At the beginning of 2017, Federer held 17 Slams to Nadal's 14.

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