Rafael Nadal clinches 11th French Open title in ‘Claywalk’

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal clinches 11th French Open title in ‘Claywalk’

Sunday's French Open final followed a similar pattern as Rafael Nadal once again emerged victorious on the Roland Garros clay, marking his 11th success in the competition over the course of his illustrious career.

Since the start of the Open era in 1968, the players from the U.S. were the dominant figures in men's tennis at Grand Slam tournaments, winning 51 titles and leaving Sweden, Spain and Switzerland far behind.

Nadal has now won 17 Grand Slam titles - three lesser than great rival Roger Federer - and matched the all-time record of most titles won at the same Grand Slam event set by Margaret Court at the Australian Open during the 1960s and 70s.

Nadal won his opening service game to love and then went 30-0 up on Thiem's serve before the Austrian won his first point.

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And he took the biggest of big cuts on his groundstrokes, his feet leaving the ground as he threw his whole body into them, as if the very outcome of the match - not any individual point, but the whole shebang - depended on the strength of that one whip of his white racket.

The 10-time champion is playing Dominic Thiem. Serving at less than 50%, Nadal got plenty of looks at second serves.

Nadal endured a nervy conclusion to the final, however, when he needed treatment in the fourth game of the third set for a finger injury before sealing victory on a fifth match point when Thiem fired a backhand long.

The trophy was carried into the Court Philippe Chatrier in a brown box during a brief ceremony before play begins and unveiled by the two stars of music and screen.

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Nadal had a brief moment of weakness in the first set, when the 24-year-old Austrian broke him in the third game.

Nadal won the first set 6-4.

Thiem - one of a number of up-and-coming players on the tour - has dropped just three sets on his way to the final. The Spaniard also became the first man in the Open Era to win at least 400 matches on both clay and hard courts. He's won a record-setting 10 titles on the clay at Roland Garros and often finished off his final opponents in straight sets. Only two players have ever come from two sets down to beat the Spaniard, and neither of those occasions was on his favourite surface. Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray - the so-called Big Four - have dominated the men's game to such a degree that Thiem is only the second player now younger than 28 to have reached a major singles final.

The women's doubles final is also Sunday.

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