Dominic Thiem hails 'awesome' King of Clay Nadal after French Open defeat

Dominic Thiem hails 'awesome' King of Clay Nadal after French Open defeat

World number one Rafael Nadal won an 11th French Open title by beating Austria's Dominic Thiem in straight sets.

"If you told seven or eight years ago that I will be here at 32 years old having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something nearly impossible, but here we are".

"I can't be always thinking of more".

But Nadal held with some clever drop shots and after taking the second set it merely became a race against time to finish off Thiem before the rain arrived.

Not that 17-times Grand Slam champion Nadal, whose latest feat is all the more remarkable considering he was sidelined for several weeks this year due to injury, is pre-occupied with trying to keep up with his Swiss rival. Roughly two years ago, Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore made some sexist remarks about how female tennis players should be on their knees thanking God that people like Nadal and Roger Federer came along and "carried the sport".

"Let me enjoy this title", Nadal said. He wound up with 42 unforced errors to Nadal's 24.

"It's fantastic now, I can't describe my feelings", a sweat-soaked Nadal told the crowd.

"I'm very pleased I'm not playing today!" Those conditions might have contributed to the cramping that affected Nadal about two hours into the final, at 2-1 in the third set.

"We have two of the greatest of all time in one era", summed up James Blake, who beat both Nadal and Federer prior to retiring.

Nadal won the first two sets.

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Nadal's 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory at age 32 was a tribute to his enduring excellence and drive, and to his continuing ability to bounce back.

He displayed his lethal weapon of single-handed backhand, while being troubled by unfavorable performance on his first serves, conceding the first set 6-4.

Ahead of the game, according to ATP, Nadal said that he will have to give his best against a player (Thiem) who is equally great.

And he increased the tempo further, consigning Thiem to defeat in his first major final when the Austrian sent a return long.

Rafa Nadal of Spain lost just one set on his way to winning his 11th French Open crown.

Nadal also did not win the title in 2016, as he withdrew with an injury before his third-round match.

Meanwhile, Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut won the men's doubles title, while Barbora Krejčiková and Kateřina Siniaková of the Czech Republic claimed the women's doubles title. Nadal won the tournament every year from 2005 through 2008 and from 2010 through 2014.

Nadal is 50-2 on the surface in that span.

Thiem saved a first breakpoint in that game but couldn't save the second, hitting a forehand wide.

In greenback terms that comes out at $2.6m, making it the smallest winner's prize of the year's four Grand Slam events and almost $1m less than the richest tournament the US Open which paid its 2017 winners - Nadal and Sloane Stephens - $3.7m each.