Dominic Thiem hails 'awesome' King of Clay Nadal after French Open defeat


Sunday at the French Open sees Rafa Nadal and Dominic Thiem take to the courts in the men's singles final, and our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, is back to preview the encounter.

Thiem says he is "confident" his first appearance in a Grand Slam final will not be his last.

Title number nine in his ninth final for Nadal and his 14th Grand Slam success on an afternoon where temperatures nudged 30 degrees.

Rafael Nadal, who has been rewriting history books since his first triumph at the 2005 French Open, won his eleventh title at Roland Garros on Sunday to add another record to his name. When a return went long on a fifth match point, Nadal raised his arms in joy. At the following changeover, he was given a salt pill by a doctor and had his left forearm massaged by a trainer.

After lifting his record-extending 11th title at Roland Garros on Sunday, Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal stayed positive about his future, insisting that tennis is undoubtedly an important part of his life, but not everything.

Yesterday's result marks the sixth consecutive grand slam won by Nadal or 20-time major champion Roger Federer.

"Tough moment in the third set when I got a little bit cramped on the hand", Nadal said.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. It was very humid and he pushed me to the limit.

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Nadal battles through cramp to claim French Open crown
After Nadal held there for 5-4, Thiem basically handed over the next game - and the set - by making four mistakes in a row. The punishment continued, with Thiem by now looking up to his coach and shrugging as another forehand whistled past him.

Suffered his first French Open loss in 2009 to Sweden's Robin Soderling in the fourth round.

The icon of the sport leads the field, with Frenchman Lucas Pouille second and his opening opponent was determined in the first match of the week as German Rudolf Molleker beat compatriot Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3. "Let me enjoy this title", he said, mildly.

The 32-year-old Spaniard had wrapped up his 17th major, taken his career earnings beyond the US$100 million mark and extended his record in Paris to 86 wins and just two defeats. The French Open statisticians are nicer than they should be, as all but one of Thiem's 19 errors in that stretch were unforced (officially, 12 were unforced and seven were forced). "The watch keeps going always", Nadal said.

That was swatted away with Nadal's double-handed backhand, though, and the second set duly went the way of the favourite. In 112 best-of-five-set matches, Nadal has never lost after claiming the first set.

Nadal was rampant when he broke early in the second, but Thiem raised his game to force a break point when Nadal served at 4-2 - a game in which the Spaniard was warned for slow play.

But the transition from clay to grass has caused Nadal problems in the past, with injuries hampering his recent Wimbledon campaigns.

"All in all", Stephens said, "I don't think anyone can complain". After guzzling water during his visit from the doctor, Nadal was back to playing his unmistakable brand of almost unbeatable clay-court tennis.