Sunday, June 09, 2019
Rafael Nadal secured his 18th Grand Slam title, and 12th at Roland-Garros with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Dominic Thiem in the final of the French Open on Sunday.
Victory is Nadal’s 12th French Open success which means he is the first player to ever win 12 titles at one single Grand Slam.
The Spaniard had dropped just one set coming into the final and was fresh off a comprehensive victory over Roger Federer in the semi-finals on Friday.
By contrast Thiem, who he whitewashed in the final last year dropping just nine games, was coming off the back of a marathon match against Novak Djokovic.
The clash was regularly delayed due to weather which led to it only being completed on Saturday afternoon, having also gone to five sets.
However, Thiem was looking to use that win over the world number one as a building block for his second Grand Slam final, as well as his straight-sets victory over Nadal in the Barcelona Open semi-final back in April.
Nadal bounced back in typical fashion though, breaking to 15 immediately after before then holding after a 10-minute battle in the seventh game.
Another break saw Nadal edge in front, with the 33-year-old then closing out the first set on serve after 53 gruelling minutes.
Thiem regained his composure to stay toe to toe with Nadal in the second set, with no break-point opportunity available until it was Thiem who brought up two sets points on his opponent’s serve.
Nadal then sent a backhand long as Thiem levelled up at 1-1, the first set he had won against the Spaniard in four meetings at Roland Garros.
It also allowed him to create his own piece of history, as he is currently the only active male on the circuit under the age of 30 to have won a set in a Grand Slam final.
However all that did was spark Nadal into a fierce reaction as he broke twice to roar into a 4-0 lead in the third.
Thiem did manage to get one game on the board but was powerless to avoid another comprehensive set win for the Spaniard.
The Austrian did dig deep though and he had the opportunity to break Nadal in the first game of the fourth but the 11-time winner responded in style, producing a vital hold.
Thiem then managed to lose his own service game before again finding himself with the opportunity to break Nadal.
Not for the first time however, Nadal was equal to the challenge, seeing off the break point and then responding well to hold to move within three games of victory.
Thiem dug out a might impressive service game to avoid the bagel but Nadal was far too good, breaking again to wrap victory for his 12th French Open title.
Speaking afterwards Nadal struggled to put into words just what he had achieved.
« First thing I want to say is congrats to Dominic. I feel sorry – he deserves it. He has absolute intensity and passion for this sport. He’s such a hard worker. I wish him all the best for the future.
» I can’t explain what I’ve achieved and how I feel. It’s a dream. »
« To play for the first time in 2005 – never thought in 2019 I’d still be here. It’s an incredible moment and very special for me.
« Dominic, sorry you are one of the best examples we have on tour a very hard worker always with a smile on your face and a good person.
« Thanks for being a great inspiration for me and for a lot of small kids around the world I know how tough it is to lose finals but that’s sport if I want to lose to someone it would be you because you deserve it well done and keep going – you will win this for sure.
« Thank you to everyone at Roland Garros. It’s the best tournament in the world.
« Thanks to my team and family. Not long ago we didn’t know if we could compete here it means a lot to me. thanks for supporting me in the most complicated times.
« I want to thank his majesty the King for coming to support me.
« I can’t explain the emotion at holding the trophy a 12th time. I hope to return next year. »
For Thiem it is a second straight defeat in the final to Nadal, he remains the second best player on the surface but it is a distant second to the Spaniard.
« It’s very tough right now. I gave everything I had these two weeks. » Thiem said afterwards.
« I love this tournament with all my heart. I love all you people with all my heart. It’s amazing support.
« Rafa well done. Of course I’m very sad to lose but you’re such an amazing champion and legend of our sport its amazing, 12 times here I will try next year again for sure.
« Big thanks to my team. There were so many people here, it means a lot to me. I hope you will be here when I maybe win my title here. I’m looking forward to next year already. »