Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Rafael Nadal was scared of cramps with 11th French Open in sight

Rafael Nadal was scared of cramps with 11th French Open in sight

On Sunday, the Clay Court King defeated yet another French Open Gran Slam aspirant - Dominic Thiem - with a straight-set victory 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to collect his 11th Roland Garros title and 17th Grand Slam overall.

After a three-minute delay, Nadal marched back to his mark and completed the second half of a double-fault.

It's impossible to know, looking ahead, just how much longer Nadal can do this.

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.

As the sound of Nadal's ball-striking groans echoing through Court Philippe Chatrier has become one of the melodic fixtures of Paris, he has won the French Open more than anybody has won anything among the four coveted majors, with the exception of Margaret Court's 11 Australian Open titles, four won during the Open Era that began in 1968. He's a good friend, one of these players that the tour needs. The world No. 8, too, was the last man to overcome Nadal on clay, last month in Madrid. That label can finally be left in the rearview mirror as she emerged victorious from a three-set battle with Sloane Stephens in the final.

Rafael Nadal and his tennis love.

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"I think it was the first time against him here in Roland Garros where it was a fight", said Thiem, who told Nadal he remembered being 11 years old and watching the Spaniard win his first title in 2005.

Slow starts have plagued Nadal in several of his matches this fortnight, most notably against 11th-Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals.

Thiem decided early on that he was not going to die wondering, attacking aggressively from behind the baseline, leading to a plethora of unforced errors.

Nadal's victory on Sunday meant that the last seven Slams have been shared between players who are 30 and over.

Well, we never thought we'd see the day, but that rather exciting prospect came true during the Laver Cup in Prague previous year.

The problem for the 24-year-old was that his serve wasn't co-operating.

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Just 50 of the limited edition RM27-03s worn by Rafael Nadal were produced by luxury Swiss watch brand Richard Mille.

In the third and final set against Thiem on Sunday, Nadal called the physio twice to check on his wrist that had been troubling him since the semis. He dropped serve on a fifth break chance.

His lone opportunity of the set indeed vanished.

The world No. 1 went up 40-0 during Thiem's first service of the third set.

His tears were a reminder that as routine as his victory may have seemed to others, it was never a given for him.

Taking the court at a major once again for the first time in more than a year, Serena Williams made a solid run to the round of 16 in singles and doubles.

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