Saturday, 23 June, 2018

Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay, Wins His 11th French Open Title

Kristopher Love | 10 June, 2018, 20:11

The world No. 1 wasn't as invincible this year - there may have been an injury issue - but he was still plenty good enough at the grand slam where he is virtually unbeatable.

The 32 year-old Spaniard earned an incredible eleventh French Open title when swatted away the challenge of Dominic Thiem 6-4 6-3 6-2 to continue his reign as the undisputed king of clay. When a return went long on a fifth match point, Nadal raised his arms in joy. He removed the tape from his left wrist and seemed to take a tablet.

"Yes, and it's going to take probably one or two more years", said Gunter Bresnik, Thiem's coach. After guzzling water during his visit from the doctor, Nadal was back to playing his unmistakable brand of almost unbeatable clay-court tennis.

Either Federer or Nadal has captured each of the last six Grand Slam championships. Court claimed the last of her 11 at the Australian Open in 1973.

After the match, Nadal said that the game needs Thiem and he "will win here in the next few years". Only Thiem's 2016 victory over Nadal in Buenos Aires was a success on non-quick clay. "Best of five is also different story".

The trainer was called at 30-0 and his intervention appeared to alleviate Nadal's discomfort, who regained his composure, held his serve and then managed to break again in the sixth game before holding out for his 17th Grand Slam title.

If there was a scare for Nadal it was an outbreak of cramp in his left hand in the third set, which he managed to shake off, like everything else this fortnight.

The situation got even more perilous after the first set.

Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters and James Bond actress Lea Seydoux have unveiled the Musketeers Cup that will be won by either Rafael Nadal or Dominic Thiem in the French Open final. He is the only man to beat the world number one on clay in the last two years - in Madrid this spring and in Rome last year. Nadal -5.5 games is available on the Exchange at [1.68] and given the fact that Nadal has tended to dominate Thiem on non-quick clay, this should be a very likely outcome if Nadal wins the final.