Peerless Nadal makes history again with 12th French Open title
The irrepressible Rafael Nadal produced yet another clay-court masterclass to overcome a superb effort from Dominic Thiem and make history with an astonishing 12th French Open triumph.
In improving his win-loss record at Roland Garros to a scarcely believable 93-2 on Sunday, courtesy of a 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 victory, Nadal became the first player in history to win a dozen singles crowns at a grand slam event, surpassing Margaret Court's haul of 11 Australian Open victories.
At 33, the Spaniard looked as dominant as ever on Court Philippe-Chatrier and Thiem must have felt there was little more he could do as he was ultimately well beaten in the final for a second year in succession, despite producing some sparkling play of his own.
Thiem, who knocked out world number one Novak Djokovic in the last four, at least claimed a well-deserved set on this occasion after proving more than a match for the 'King of Clay' for the best part of two hours.
However, Nadal simply responded to the setback by racing to victory in ruthless fashion. It remains hard to see how he can possibly be stopped in this event when fully fit.
His third consecutive triumph in Paris means he now has 18 slam titles, just two short of the record 20 claimed by his great rival, Roger Federer. Barring injury, this will surely not be the last time he lifts the Coupe des Mousquetaires.
Having eliminated Djokovic in a five-set contest that finished on Saturday following interruptions for rain, Thiem could have been forgiven for starting sluggishly but the Austrian was magnificent in the opening exchanges, his admirable athleticism and court coverage matched by some superb shot-making.
The world number four even claimed the first break of the contest to edge 3-2 ahead, but Nadal – relentless and accurate as ever on his favourite surface – cancelled it out immediately before enjoying further success on Thiem's serve and wrapping up the opening set to strike a hammer blow.
It was tough to find any way back for Thiem, particularly as the reigning champion repeatedly held serve with ease in set two, yet a surprising twist in the tale followed.
Having dropped only one point in five service games, Nadal made three successive errors serving at 5-6 and then put a backhand long under pressure, ensuring the match was back on level terms after an hour and three quarters.
Sadly for Thiem and those hoping for an upset, the underdog's level dipped significantly at the start of set three, allowing a resurgent Nadal – who had left the court upon being pegged back – to swiftly reclaim the initiative with a run of 11 straight points and two successive breaks.
An increasingly aggressive Nadal was at his clinical best as he wrapped up the set in just 24 minutes, and the end was nigh when he won the first three games of the fourth, albeit while being forced to save a trio of break points.
Thiem, whose girlfriend Kristina Mladenovic won the women's doubles title alongside Timea Babos earlier in the day, dug deep to recover from 0-40 in his next service game, but his display of grit only delayed the inevitable.
Nadal is simply unstoppable at Roland Garros. You can make a case for several different players being the greatest of all time, but his dominance of a single slam is without parallel and may never be topped.