You will win this, for sure – Champion Nadal backs Thiem for French Open glory
Rafael Nadal tipped Dominic Thiem for future success at Roland Garros after beating the Austrian to secure a remarkable 12th French Open title.
For the second year in succession, Nadal got the better of Thiem in the final on Court Philippe-Chatrier, triumphing 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 to set a new record for the most singles victories by any player at one grand slam.
Although the reigning champion did drop a set on this occasion, he ultimately prevailed with a degree of comfort once again and appears unstoppable in Paris when fully fit.
Nadal will surely have his sights set on further glory at his favourite grand slam, but he backed Thiem to also lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires.
"The first thing that I want to say is congrats to Dominic and I feel sorry because he deserves it here too," said a magnanimous Nadal on court following his 18th slam success.
"You are one of the best examples that we have on tour, a very hard worker, always with a smile on your face and a good person, that's the most important thing.
"I know how tough it is losing finals, but that is sport and, being honest, if I wanted to lose to someone it would be you, because you deserve it. Keep going – you will win this, for sure."
World number four Thiem, who performed outstandingly in the opening set but still lost it 6-3, was similarly gracious when speaking at the trophy presentation.
"It's tough right now because I gave it everything I had the last two weeks," he said.
"Rafa, well done. Of course I am very sad to lose, but you're such an amazing champion, such a legend of our sport.
"We can be really happy that you are playing. It's amazing, 12 times here, it's unreal. I will try next year again, for sure."