Nadal defeats Thiem in straight sets for 11th French Open title

Playing the King of Clay at the French Open is akin to scaling Mont Blanc without ropes and even an intrepid adventurer from Europe's Alpine heartland found it a peak too steep as Rafael Nadal stormed to an 11th title on Sunday. 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. At the following changeover, Nadal was given a salt pill by a doctor and had his left forearm massaged by a trainer.

The younger challengers struggle to land a punch, and the last six men's Grand Slam titles have now gone in the sequence of Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal.

The victory moves Nadal to 86-2 at the clay court slam.

Rafael Nadal is the French Open 2018 victor.

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.

Nadal had come into the year's second Grand Slam high on confidence, after wins in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. At one point finally, Thiem tried going around the post in the penultimate game, just after a Nadal cross-court backhand return seared so close over the net cord that it made the Parisians murmur. After Nadal held there for 5-4, Thiem basically handed over the next game - and the set - by making four mistakes in a row. He pounded huge serves, topping 135 miles per hour (220 kph) - about 25 miles per hour (40 kph) more than Nadal's fastest - and that translated into seven aces, but also five double-faults.

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The signs were already ominous for Thiem at that stage because in 112 best-of-five-set matches, Nadal had never lost after taking the first set.

A wild, misguided forehand sealed his fate, one of 18 unforced errors to Nadal's 12 in the set. Thiem withstood a barrage of break points to hold in a marathon sixth game, which he thought he had won at 40-30 when he left a wide ball, only for the umpire to overrule the line judge.

The 21-year-old became the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win three successive titles at Roland Garros. A forehand long. Just like that, Nadal was off on a five-game run that put him up 3-0 in the second set. Midway through the opening set, Nadal's aqua T-shirt was so soaked with sweat it stuck to him.

Soon, Nadal was finding his spots. Another forehand victor from Nadal followed, and this time Thiem looked up toward his coach and yelled.

Nadal celebrated in relatively low key fashion, but then there is not much novelty value in this.

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