Rafael Nadal first won the French Open in 2005. He has reached the final 11 times, and each and every time he has walked away as the champion.
In 2018 he marched through the seven rounds dropping just one set. That came in the quarterfinals against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.
Rafa at the age of 32 isn’t slowing down, although there was a bit of a scare in the final when he suddenly left the court saying he couldn’t hold the racquet. After a few minutes of treatment, he was back out on the court and battling away.
Dominic Thiem, Nadal’s opponent in the final had been the only player to defeat Nadal on clay in 2018, but that was over a best of three-set scenario, today he was no match. Nadal after five championship points took the match 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.
As Thiem hit long on championship point Nadal stood at the baseline with his arms raised as he soaked up the moment.
Thiem tried all he could to do to pull off the impossible, defeat Nadal in a Roland Garros final, but Nadal just kept getting the ball back. He fought a tough battle.
Before Nadal burst onto the scene in 2005 it was the great Bjorn Borg that had won six Roland Garros titles in the 70s. Max Decugis had won eight before the open era. It is hard to imagine that one player would win the same Grand Slam title 11 times in the open era, but that is what Nadal has now pulled off.
Nadal was presented the trophy by two-time French Open champion Ken Rosewall.
Nadal began the match at full speed, scoring an early break against a nervous Thiem to open a 2-0 lead. The Austrian settled, and, much to the delight of the capacity crowd, broke back and eventually leveled scores at 2-2.
The remainder of the first set was a competitive, physical slug-fest until then 10th game when, trailing 4-5, Thiem made several errors and surrendered serve at love.
With the first set won, Nadal played even more purposefully and relentlessly, peppering Thiem’s one-handed backhand and breaking serve en route to a 3-0 lead. He maintained his advantage to win the second set 6-3.
Nadal was pressing to win the first game of the third set having several breakpoints but Thiem held off to save that game. The pressure was too much and Nadal was soon breaking Thiem’s serve to rush towards title no. 11.
With the title win, Nadal remains the world no. 1 as the circuit heads to the grass courts. Federer who sat out the claycourt season will return in an attempt to deny Nadal another Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.