Rafael Nadal secures 11th French Open title

Some silky football skills from Stephens

Tennis > French OpenVIDEO- Some silky football skills from Sloane Stephens

If there were any reason for a bit of intrigue entering Sunday, it was this: Thiem beat Nadal on red clay at Rome in May 2017 and again at Madrid last month. A forehand long. Just like that, Nadal was off on a five-game run that put him up 3-0 in the second set. "It's definitely one of the best things somebody ever achieved in sport". But as Nadal's uncle, Toni Nadal, said shortly afterwards, "this is not normal". He is now three grand slam titles short of Roger Federer, the pair having shared the past six slam titles between them.

Thiem, who is the only man to beat Nadal on clay over the past two seasons, appeared for his first Grand Slam final.

Ramos is now in Russian Federation with the Spanish squad as they prepare for the World Cup, but took time out to tweet in Spanish, hailing Nadal for his "dynasty on clay", calling him a "tennis legend" and "sporting hero".

"For me, today is very special day, and every day that I spend on tour enjoying all the experiences that the tennis gave me the possibility to live".

In a world bustling with ball-maulers yearning to topple euphorically onto Roland Garros clay or merely stand and raise the arms skyward in triumph just once in life, Rafael Nadal did so Sunday for a preposterous 11th time, even while choosing the standing option for only the second.

Nadal remained implacable in the homestretch, intent on ignoring his temporarily impaired hand, outracing the rainclouds that hovered close and low but didn't erupt, and trying to outrun, outhit and outwit a player who was 11 years old when he won his first title here in 2005.

The score may have looked rather routine but there was some drama in the third set when Nadal called for the trainer at 2-1, 30-0.

Once he moved two sets ahead it merely became a race against time for Nadal to finish the match off before the rain arrived.

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 had never lost in the 112 best-of-five-set matches in which he had won the opening set and Thiem dropped serve early in the second with another over-cooked backhand. "I was not [in] control of my finger".

But Thiem, unusually standing up to Nadal's first serve, forced two break points in the next game and converted the second with a flashing forehand into the right corner.

A few hours earlier, as Nadal and Thiem warmed up, the booming voice of the announcer at Court Philippe Chatrier detailed the bona fides of both. It added more voices by the time 2008 rolled around.

For me, you know, if you tell me seven, eight years ago that I will be here [at] 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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