Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Sports | By Juana Wells

Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem, French Open 2018 men's final

Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem, French Open 2018 men's final

Nadal struck first in an enthralling opening set, breaking Thiem's first service game to take a two-game lead but they were back on serve immediately as the Austrian hit back.

Two breaks later Nadal was in a familiar position, serving for the title, and when another Thiem forehand dropped long, his arms were raised in celebration, yet again. Nadal's had some challenges at Roland-Garros' championship stage over the years, but few athletes in any sport have ever been more acclimatized to a venue the way Nadal has owned the terra firma of Roland-Garros' grounds. But as Nadal's uncle, Toni Nadal, said shortly afterwards, "this is not normal". The best? Roger Federer, of course, who's made 30 Grand Slam finals and won 20 of them.

Understandably, Thiem looked edgy as the match begun and he managed to win only one of the first eight points as Nadal, cheered loudly when he walked on court, bristled with intent.

It's in the past, I don't watch it.' In the same tournament, he had defeated a very young Novak Djokovic as well.

- Rafael Nadal tries to take in the achievement of winning his 11th Roland Garros crown. "And, of course, it was not nice to lose the first set, but still it was not a key point of today".

Thiem, mixing heavy top-spin and flat groundstrokes and angling balls across the sidelines, saved a break point at 1-2 and two more at 2-3 and there were signs that Nadal was struggling with his timing as he framed several forehands.

"There is a reason why he won 11 times here", said Thiem, a 24-year-old Austrian appearing in his first major final.

Thiem dug in - especially in the roughly 13-minute sixth game - but he crumbled attempting to stay in the set, making four unforced errors. Nadal held for 5-4, and Thiem basically handed over the next game - and the set - with four mistakes. "I was not [in] control of my finger". Despite the expectation ahead of the final, the weather may prove the only victor on Sunday with heavy rain and thunder storms expected around 1500 (1300GMT) when the final is due to start.

He then had his forearm massaged at the changeover before resuming his demolition job.

Shortly after, he'd be holding the silver trophy, the one he knows so well, and crying. Nadal's introduction included a year-by-year accounting of every time he'd already won the French Open.

The crowd responded at the mention of 2005, initially offering polite applause. I add one more Grand Slam. The crescendo rose to a full-throated roar for 2017.

"For me, you know, if you tell me seven, eight years ago that I will be here with 32 years old having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something nearly impossible, but here we are". "But here we are".

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