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

Rafael Nadal described his performance at the French Open previous year, when he didn't surrender a set, as "perfect".

Playing the king of clay at the French Open is akin to scaling Mont Blanc without any ropes and even an intrepid adventurer from Europe's Alpine heartland found it a peak too steep as Rafael Nadal claimed an 11th title on Sunday.

- Rafael Nadal tries to take in the achievement of winning his 11th Roland Garros crown.

But from the moment Nadal broke serve in the 10th game to win the opening set Thiem's belief ebbed away.

Nadal is now the first player in the Open Era, male or female, to win the same Grand Slam tournament 11 times, a feat that has been dubbed La Undécima, after Real Madrid's bid to win an 11th European Cup.

Thiem, who was trying to become only the second Austrian Grand Slam champion after Tomas Muster's 1995 Paris triumph, played his part in the two hour 42 minute tussle but was unable to sustain the high-octane tennis needed to ruffle Nadal.

Nadal's welling eyes during the trophy ceremony provided a moment of vulnerability after a match that had very few of them, apart from a freaky interlude in the third set when Nadal abruptly stopped mid-service game with a disconcerted expression and left the baseline to request medical attention for a cramping left hand.

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He then had his forearm massaged at the changeover before resuming his demolition job. This time, there were no trademark celebrations of going down on the clay post the win while that of biting the trophy continued to remain alive. "You never know where is the limit", he said.

The 32-year-old Spaniard is only the second player to hold the record, after Margaret Court had won the Australian women's singles title 11 times. He took the biggest of big cuts on groundstrokes, his feet leaving the ground as he threw his whole body into them, as if the very outcome - not of any individual point, but the whole shebang - depended on the strength of that one whip of his white racket.

"If you told seven or eight years ago that I will be here at 32 years old having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something nearly impossible, but here we are". When a return went long on a fifth match point, Nadal raised his arms in joy.

From 4-all, 15-all in the opening set, Thiem faltered. After Nadal held there for 5-4, Thiem basically handed over the next game - and the set - by making four mistakes in a row. A forehand wide. A forehand into the net.

"I was not able to move the hand, the finger", Nadal said.

'So I just gonna keep fighting for things and that's it.

After winning 26 of his 27 matches throughout the European claycourt season and 81 of his last 86 sets on clay, there is nothing to suggest Nadal's domination in Paris will end soon.

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