Paris | Nadal still reigns supreme at Roland Garros
The indefatigable Rafa Nadal swept through to his 12th French Open title as he brushed aside Dominc Thiem in the final at Roland Garros for a second consecutive year.
It's a dream to win again, an incredible moment. When I first played here in 2005 I never thought I would be still playing here in 2019. It's very special for me. Rafa Nadal
Thiem however, improved on last year’s performance by taking a set off the King of Clay, but there was no stopping the Mallorcan from steamrolling through 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 to his record setting triumph as he becomes the first player, male or female, to win the same slam 12 times as the 33-year-old surpasses Margaret Court’s 11 Australian Open wins achieved during the sixties and early seventies.
Nadal has also closed the gap on Roger Federer’s all-time-record of 20 grand slam titles to just two and three ahead of Nova Djokovic who was knocked out by Thiem in the semi-finals.
The world number two also took his Paris record to an astonishing 93 wins and just two losses. It also gave Nadal an 82nd career title and 950th match win.
“I want to say congratulations to Dominic. I feel sorry as he deserves to win it as well,” said Nadal. “But he has every chance in the future. He has unbelievable talent for the sport and I want to encourage him for the future.
“It’s a dream to win again, an incredible moment. When I first played here in 2005 I never thought I would be still playing here in 2019. It’s very special for me.”
Thiem acknowledged Nadal’s supremacy. “Rafa, well done. You are an amazing champion and a legend in our sport,” the Austrian said. “I am happy that you are playing. To win 12 times, it’s unreal. I will try again, for sure.”
He also added: “It’s very tough. I gave everything these last two weeks.”
The first set which lasted 53-minutes saw the finalists exchange a series of brutal shots and it was Thiem who gained the early break for 3-2.
That lead was snuffed out immediately as Nadal then strung together four consecutive games to claim the opening set.
Thiem, who had previously beaten Nadal on clay four times, found himself struggling against the Spaniard’s serve in the second as he failed to claim a single points off Nadal’s service games durng the second set.
However, the dogged Austrian pushed and pushed, forcing Nadal into three rushed groundstrokes and, from nowhere, broke to take the second set.
It was the first set he had managed to take off Nadal at Roland Garros after three previous defeats.
Again Nadal’s reaction was immediate as he stormed into a 3-0 lead in the third and then claimed the Thiem serve for a third time to pull ahead.
Thiem’s bid to become he first Austrian to win the French Open since Tomas Muster’s success in 1995 was fast ebbing as he started to feel the effects of playing on four consecutive days because of the weather.
He wasted break points in the first and third games of the fourth set as Nadal again pulled ahead 3-0 which quickly became 5-1 as he wilted under the heavy barrage of Nadal’s broadsides.
And Nadal collected his 12th title on his second match point following a loose return from a valiant opponent.