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Magnificent Nadal leaves Thiem's 'plan' in tatters

257   //    10 Jun 2018, 22:33 IST
Rafael Nadal celebrates winning an 11th French Open title

There were shrugs of disbelief from an exasperated Dominic Thiem in the first set and that became a familiar sight as he became the latest player to suffer at the hands of the incredible Rafael Nadal in a French Open final.

Thiem boldly stated that he had formulated a plan to try and dethrone the great Nadal after reaching his first grand slam decider.

Yet the Austrian again discovered that the best laid plans tend to go awry when faced with the daunting task of coming up against the domineering 'King of Clay' at Roland Garros.

Thiem needed to go back to the drawing board with his trademark one-handed backhand failing to fire and Nadal firing on all cylinders.

Nadal stood way back ready to pounce on the Thiem serve, unleashed a barrage of powerful groundstrokes, served with assurance and executed the odd delicate drop shot with skill of the highest order.

The gifted Thiem was the only player to beat the legendary Spaniard on clay both this season and last year, but defeating him on Court Philippe Chatrier is a different challenge altogether - as he knows all too well, having been beaten by Nadal at the semi-final stage last year and in the second round in 2014.

There was more than a sense of deja vu as Nadal charged around a famous sporting arena that he has made his own, marching to an unprecedented 11th title with a commanding 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory.

Thiem was soon feeling the heat on a humid day after the defending champion had gone through his regimental pre-match routine against an opponent who described his time doing national service in the military as "a pain in the a**e".

A flustered Thiem looked up to his box and held out his arms with a forlorn expression on his face as he was tormented by Nadal, who capitalised on a nervy start from the first-time major finalist and took charge after the seventh seed had broken back.

The masterful Nadal proved to be unstoppable yet again, 12 months after brushing aside Stan Wawrinka to complete 'La Decima'.

Spanish flags were flying with an imperious Nadal hitting the heights again after a stunning pre-match flyover to mark a century since the death of celebrated aviator and war hero Roland Garros.

A majestic Nadal sounded an ominous warning by stating that he had a feeling inside him that he could take his game to another level after demolishing Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets.

Whatever Thiem's plan was, he never looked like dethroning Nadal, who was at his brilliant best and continued to dictate despite needing treatment on his wrist. 

Thiem's head rocked back when he put a straightforward backhand volley into the net when serving to stay in a tight first set and he was furious with himself after drilling a forehand way beyond the baseline to put Nadal a set up.

While Thiem was rattled, Nadal smelled blood and it was inevitable that there would only be one winner as he paced around the court clearing clay from the lines, marking out his territory like a predator.

Thiem looked to the skies, which had become as gloomy as his mood by the time he was put out of his misery.

Nadal showed emotion after claiming his 17th grand slam crown and striking another blow for experience over youth, becoming only the second player to win the same major more than 10 times.

The chances are he is not finished yet.

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