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Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay, Wins His 11th French Open Title

11 June 2018

World number one Rafael Nadal won an 11th French Open title by beating Austria's Dominic Thiem in straight sets.

In the other semi-final, Marco Cecchinato's odd run in the last two weeks was ended by Dominic Thiem, also in straight sets, although the first two sets were somewhat closer than anything Del Potro could muster.

The king of clay has his first major of 2018 and will be eager to add a second when the Grand Slam calendar turns to Wimbledon in July, although it's been eight years since he last made the final at SW19.

Nadal has never lost a best-of-five match on clay after winning the first set, and Thiem was unable to change that equation.

He joined Australia's Margaret Court as the only player to win 11 titles at the same major, while the victory also took his record at Roland Garros to 86 wins and just two losses.

Nadal's introduction included a year-by-year accounting of every time he'd already won the title at Roland Garros.

On another day, if the result had been different in 1968, it might have been Laver in Paris presenting Nadal with the trophy.

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"I played my best match of the tournament", Nadal told the crowd afterward.

Nadal won his sixth French Open title by defeating Federer once more in Paris.

If there was a scare for Nadal it was an outbreak of cramp in his left hand in the third set, which he managed to shake off, like everything else this fortnight.

But in the third set, comfortably ahead by a break at 2-1, something unusual happened-Nadal's left hand cramped.

Others - including U.S. former tennis great Billie Jean King and ex-male professional James Blake - praised Nadal's victory, which was dominant despite an injury scare with hand cramp in the latter stages of the third set.

'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.

And world No 1 Nadal congratulated Halep on her clay court success.

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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.

That it was not was testimony to Nadal's level, which never wavered, despite everything Thiem threw at him. 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.

Written off as fading forces two years ago, Nadal, 32, and Roger Federer, approaching 37, have won the last six Grand Slam titles between them.

The Spaniard was quick to hammer home his advantage at the start of the second, converting his fifth break point of a lengthy game as Thiem's usually trusty backhand let him down.

Unfortunately for him, Thiem began the second set the same way he ended the first.

Certainly, Nadal played a role.

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Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay, Wins His 11th French Open Title