Nadal defeats Thiem to clinch historic 12th French Open title

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 09.06.2019 19:17
Updated 09.06.2019 19:26
Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts after winning a point against Austria's Dominic Thiem during their men's singles final match, on day fifteen of The Roland Garros 2019 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 9, 2019. (AFP Photo)
Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts after winning a point against Austria's Dominic Thiem during their men's singles final match, on day fifteen of The Roland Garros 2019 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 9, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Rafael Nadal swept to an historic 12th Roland Garros title and 18th Grand Slam crown on Sunday with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Austria's Dominic Thiem.

The 33-year-old Spaniard becomes the first player, man or woman, to win the same Slam 12 times after seeing off a brave challenge from a weary Thiem in a repeat of the 2018 final.

King of clay Nadal claimed victory in an at times sensational battle after 3 hours 1 minute to move one win ahead Margaret Court, who won 11 Australian Opens, throwing himself to the ground in delight. His first Paris title was in 2005 and his astonishing match record at the tournament now stands at 93-2.

The second-ranked Spaniard has 82 career titles and 18 at the majors, just two shy of the record 20 won by Roger Federer whom he beat in the semi-finals.

Sunday's triumph confirmed the 'Big Three' stranglehold on the Grand Slams having shared the last 10 between them.

It also gave Nadal an 82nd career title and 950th match win.

Thiem, 25, lost the Roland Garros decider a second straight year against Nadal, after beating him for the fourth time overall a few weeks ago in Barcelona.

In a 53-minute first set of brutal hitting and raw physicality, it was Thiem who broke first for a 3-2 lead.

But the 25-year-old's joy was short-lived as Nadal retrieved the break in the sixth game before racing away with the next three games to pocket the opener.

Thiem, who had beaten his opponent four times on clay in his career, failed to claim a single point off Nadal's first five service games of the second set.

However, the dogged Austrian pushed and pushed, forced 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.

Nadal was riled by the insult.

He swept the first 10 points of the third set, carving out a double break for 3-0 before sweeping to a third break for the set.

Thiem, bidding to become just Austria's second Grand Slam champion after Thomas Muster won in Paris in 1995, had played four successive days to reach Sunday's final and the toll was slowly telling.

He wasted break points in the first and third games of the fourth set and Nadal pounced to stretch to 3-0.

That was soon 5-1 and the relentless barrage continued with Nadal taking the title on a second match point when Thiem fired a return long.

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