COOKIE CONSENT
Create & Earn
Notifications
Favorites Edit

Nadal overcomes Thiem and continues reign as the king of clay

Chetan Bhandi
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
189   //    12 Jun 2018, 17:40 IST

2018 French Open - Day Fifteen
Nadal once again lifting the trophy that has become synonymous with him

The action on the fifteenth day at Roland Garros was an affair that ended the same way as 10 previous ones had - the red clay surface, the French Open Men's Singles trophy and the "as usual" winner

In the last fourteen years, barring 2009, 2015 and 2016, the final day of every calendar year's second Grand Slam has witnessed the same scenes - the man from Mallorca displaying his full repertoire of skills, living up to his El Matador (The Bull) nickname and lifting his favorite Coupe des Mousquetaires.

As it has almost become a tradition, Nadal emerged victorious again, defeating Austrian Dominic Thiem in straight sets 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to clinch his 11th French Open title, thereby equalling the record for most open titles won in a single tournament (previously held by Margaret Court who had won 11 Australian Open titles).


Overcoming Thiem's challenge

Before the final, a lot had been written in the media about the possibility of Dominic Thiem upsetting the apple-cart and being to the one to end Nadal's reign as El Rey de la Arcilla (The King of Clay). Thiem's defeat of Nadal in the Madrid Masters last month gave credence to this belief.

However, it was business as usual in the French Open final as Rafa started aggressively making the first break and taking a 2-0 lead in the first set. Though Thiem broke back soon to even it 2-2, the Spaniard broke him again in the 10th game to snatch the first set 6-4.

The Spaniard got the early break in the second set as well and this time, he maintained the pressure on the youngster winning the set comfortably 6-3. Thiem countered with a few great winners but the Spaniard was in no mood to let the upstart off the hook.

The third set was no different with Rafa breaking Thiem's serve in the third set but in the next game serving 30-0, he suffered a minor cramp in his fingers. He took an injury break which created anxiety among his fans but to their enormous relief, he regrouped quickly and won the game taking a crucial 3-1 lead.

Rafa broke Thiem's serve in the seventh game as well ensuring he was serving for the match in the next game. Though he went up 40-0 claiming three match points, a lapse of concentration allowed the young Austrian to come back into the game. However, after the deuce, the 24-year-old sent a wild shot off the baseline and ensured the reign of the king will continue for another year.

Tennis: Nadal claims 11th French Open title
Thiem gave his best but was no match for the Master

The third set was no different with Rafa breaking Thiem's serve in the third set but in the next game serving 30-0, he suffered a minor cramp in his fingers. He took an injury break which created anxiety among his fans but to their enormous relief, he regrouped quickly and won the game taking a crucial 3-1 lead.

Rafa broke Thiem's serve in the seventh game as well ensuring he was serving for the match in the next game. Though he went up 40-0 claiming three match points, a lapse of concentration allowed the young Austrian to come back into the game.

However, after the deuce, the 24-year-old sent a wild shot off the baseline and ensured the reign of the king will continue for another year.

The desire for more & winning streak

In the post-match presentation ceremony, Nadal expressed his desire to come back to defend his title as despite winning the title for 11 times, the desire to excel has not diminished. Since 2005, when he won the title in Paris for the first time, the youthful exuberance has given way to a more matured and masterful approach, but the fighting spirit has remained the same.

There has been no change in the swift court coverage, the powerful passing shots, thunderous forehands and strong baseline play. In fact, he has gotten better at this and many other aspects of his play.

The victory against Thiem extended Rafa's record win-loss equation at the French Open to 86-2 and his overall record in the five-set matches he has played on clay stands at 111-2.

The 2018 clay season which officially ended with the French Open has seen Nadal win four titles - the Monte Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open, the Rome Masters and the French Open (a feat he is repeating for the second consecutive year).

He looks to be injury-free (for now) and will be looking to do something again at Wimbledon, a tournament he last won in 2010.

Topics you might be interested in:
Chetan Bhandi
CONTRIBUTOR
Fetching more content...