In Brief

King of Paris: Rafael Nadal targets a 12th French Open title

The Spaniard was too strong for Dominic Thiem in the final at Roland-Garros

Rafa Nadal wrote another chapter in his extraordinary career in Paris yesterday by brushing aside Dominic Thiem to win his 11th French Open title.

Only Margaret Court, who won 11 Australian Open crowns between 1960 and 1973, has won the same Grand Slam title as many times, but Nadal vowed to return next year to make it a record-breaking 12.

“It is always my dream to win this trophy, you all know how important the tournament is to me,” the King of Clay told the crowd. “So I hope to see you all again next year.”

In humid conditions in Paris, Nadal overwhelmed his 24-year-old opponent 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 - a disappointing outcome for the seventh-seed Austrian (playing in his first major final) who is the only man to have beaten the Spaniard on clay in the past two years.

“What you have done, to win this tournament 11 times, is one of the greatest things in sport,” a magnanimous Thiem told Nadal afterwards. “I hope I soon get another chance here - maybe against you. But it has still been a great two weeks for me here.”

Incredible Nadal

Thiem’s chance may come in future years but the present belongs very much to the 32-year-old Nadal, who now has 17 Grand Slam titles to his name, just three behind his great rival Roger Federer.

“It’s really incredible,” said the Spaniard. “I played a great match against a great player. I had a tough moment in the third set with cramps in my hand. I was very scared but that’s sport.”

Six sets dropped

Nadal, who dropped just 24 points on his serve in the two hours and 42 minutes it took him to dispose of his adversary, required treatment in the fourth game of the third set for a finger injury but that was a rare moment of concern for him on a day when he simply overpowered Thiem.

Not that the Austrian helped himself, with nerves clearly inhibiting his game. He made 18 unforced errors in the second set as celebrities including Hugh Grant and Tim Roth looked on from the stand.

Having lost only twice in 87 matches in Paris since making his debut in 2005, Nadal was never going to let nerves get to him, and he powered through his opponent to remind tennis fans how privileged they are to have Nadal and Federer in the same era.

But the most remarkable stat of all? In his 11 French Open finals, Nadal has lost only six sets.

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