Rafael Nadal clinches 11th French Open title in ‘Claywalk’

As he sat down in the French Open lounge on Saturday, Günter Bresnik, Dominic Thiem's coach, was asked about Thiem's upcoming French Open final against Rafael Nadal, the finest clay court tennis player of all time.

And he increased the tempo further, consigning Thiem to defeat in his first major final when the Austrian sent a return long.

But it ultimately proved a futile mission as, just like in all but two of Nadal's previous 87 matches here, the relentless Spaniard proved insurmountable, winning 6-4 6-3 6-2.

Look back over Rafael Nadal's Grand Slam history after his 17th major win at the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros.

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. Thiem broke the Spaniard's serve in the third game of the match, nullifying Nadal's early break but earned only one more break point - which was saved by Nadal.

There was late anxiety for Nadal as the predicted thunderstorms loomed and he needed his left forearm massaged after beginning to suffer from cramp.

Less than an hour after the match was completed, demolition workers began to smash up Court Philippe Chatrier, part of the continuing redevelopment that will lead to a roof being in place over the stadium court in two years' time. One more backhand error from Thiem would see Nadal raise his hands in triumph. After guzzling water during that break, Nadal felt better and was back to playing his unmistakable brand of almost unbeatable clay-court tennis.

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"It's wonderful now, I can't describe my feelings", a sweat-soaked Nadal told the crowd.

"It's not even a dream to win here 11 times, because its impossible to think of something like this".

After Nadal won the first, there was an air of inevitability.

But the Austrian freed his shoulders and broke back in the third game with forehand victor - pumping his fists in the direction of coach Gunter Bresnik.

Another feature was his ridiculously slow play when serving, nearly always over the 25-second limit and sometimes going well into the thirties. Nadal held for 5-4, and Thiem basically handed over the next game - and the set - with four mistakes.

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.

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

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