Thiem waits an age as Nadal moves his bottles

Posted June 11, 2018

For the past two years, Thiem has been threatening to encroach on Nadal's territory.

"For sure, me, I'm confident that this was not my last Grand Slam final, " Thiem said, "and that's my biggest goal: to get into the next one and then to do better than today".

Thiem is the only man to have beaten Nadal on clay over the past two seasons, including a surprise victory in the Madrid Open quarter-finals last month, but there was no repeat shock on Court Philippe Chatrier as the top seed prevailed 6-4 6-3 6-2.

In Madrid, Thiem said the key was to be positive against Nadal. I played my best match of the tournament, it's unbelievable and I'm very happy'.

Roland-Garros hosted a final that told two stories, with Nadal easing to victory after surrendering only one set all tournament long, while Thiem looked noticeably short on stamina, particularly in the later stages of Sunday's decider.

This historical analysis doesn't lend itself to fancying Thiem's chances of denying Nadal an 11th French Open title this afternoon, and neither did my model pricing either.

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The King of Clay has done it again.

Just like that, Nadal was off on a five-game burst to lead 3-0 in the second set.

Thiem found some life and threatened with a break point in the seventh game, but Nadal broke his pace with a drop shot and finished it off with a passing shot, holding for 5-2.

In the third set, Nadal suffered a blip as he called for the trainer for a cramp in his left hand.

Nadal, 32, is second behind Federer in the list of all-time Grand Slam titles, three clear of Pete Sampras in third.

'Of course I would love to have 20 like Roger in the future or even more, but being honest, is something that is not in my mind.

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Thiem was on the couch, watching on TV, in 2005, when Nadal earned his first Grand Slam trophy in Paris at age 19. Thiem was not easily cowed down by the Nadal forehand, nor the Popeye-bicep it finished off on.

He was the only man to beat Nadal on clay over the past two seasons, doing so twice.

Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria, was appearing in a major final for the first time.

The 24-year-old finally reached the Roland Garros showpiece after losing in the semi-finals in 2016 and 2017.

Although Nadal subsequently received treatment on his forearm it seemingly had little adverse effect and, after a second break of serve, his 11th triumph was secured at the fifth time of asking when Thiem sent a return long.

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.

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The number of Masters 1000 titles won by Nadal, the most by a single player since the series began in 1990.