Rafael Nadal defeats Dominic Thiem, wins his 11th French Open title

Rafael Nadal defeats Dominic Thiem, wins his 11th French Open title

The world No 1 is looking for a record-extending 11th triumph at Roland Garros having won all 10 of his previous finals in the French capital. The crowd responded, initially offering polite applause, then adding their voices, rising into a full-throated roar. The trainer massaged Nadal's forearms twice but it was still not good enough to halt the Spaniard and the job was complete when Thiem's backhand sailed long.

"Tough moment in the third set when I got a little bit cramped on the hand", Nadal said.

The number of Grand Slam singles titles now held by Nadal, who is second on the all-time list among men in the Open Era, behind Federer (20), and ahead of Pete Sampras (14), Djokovic and Roy Emerson (12 each). The two stars have combined to win the past six majors. The Austrian does possess all the tools to trouble Nadal, but successfully doing it over the course of at least three sets might be too uphill a task for the first time Grand Slam finalist.

A dejected Nadal suffered a stunning loss against Robin Soderling at the French Open. In fact, the Austrian remains the only one to beat Nadal on clay for two years in a row.

"Yes, and it's going to take probably one or two more years", said Gunter Bresnik, Thiem's coach.

The much-awaited face-off between Nadal and Thiem is scheduled to start at 6.30pm IST on Sunday.

Nadal then served out that game. He attempted drop shots; some worked, some didn't.

Dominic Thiem
Can Dominic Thiem win his first Grand Slam title on Sunday?CHRISTOPHE SIMON AFP Getty Images

Whatever the problem, his dominance remained and a love game took him to 4-2 before he eventually sealed victory on a fifth match point when the Austrian fired another backhand long.

Nadal had 12 unforced errors.

It worked. For a bit.

Thiem's fighting spirit was evident in abundance - he continued to put pressure on Nadal through his return game, while consistently scrapping to stave off perilous positions on his own serve - but ultimately the Spaniard's quality and, often, his sheer force of will, won the day.

Because there's still no beating Nadal on Parisian clay in the final weekend at Roland Garros. Nadal finished off the second set in less than 50 minutes and was only a few games away from the inevitable. A forehand wide. A forehand into the net.

Sunday's win was Nadal's 17th major trophy, only putting him three behind Roger Federer. One down-the-line forehand victor landed right at the baseline and Thiem's shoulders sagged as he muttered to himself. The drama for Nadal this time around, it seemed, would be self-inflicted. Today was very humid against a player who pushed me to the limit.

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