The number of consecutive Grand Slam tournaments now won by a man aged 30 or older, the longest streak of its kind in the Open Era.
Rafael Nadal has won his 11th French Open title thanks to a straight-sets victory over Dominic Thiem.
“What you did and what you are doing”, Thiem told Nadal during the trophy ceremony, “is one of the most outstanding things that any athlete is doing in any sport”.
Nadal has not lost at Roland Garros when taking the first set and that record did not look like coming under threat as he continually rebuffed Thiem’s attempts to make inroads into his serve, taking the second courtesy of an early break. He removed the tape from his left wrist and seemed to take a tablet. When he first halted play, Nadal removed that tape, which he said let his circulation improve. This, though, is Nadal’s court, the place he has dominated like no other.
Nadal. the world’s No. 1 player, has 17 career Grand Slam titles, now three behind Roger Federer for most all-time. Court claimed the last of her 11 at the Australian Open in 1973.
Nadal called it “not even a dream” to win his 11 titles in Paris.
Years ago, Rafael Nadal earned the nickname the “King of Clay” for a reason.
On Sunday, Nadal will go up against Austria’s Dominic Thiem, the eighth-ranked player in the world and someone who has defeated Nadal before.
But most of what transpired Sunday afternoon was eminently familiar: The distinctive roar of appreciation when the Spanish superstar walked into the stadium, the whirring accompaniment of photographers’ motor drives as he tossed the ball skyward, the sense that when he closed out the first set, it was ballgame on center court even though it was best-of-five on paper.
Nadal endured a nervy conclusion to the final, however, when he needed treatment in the fourth game of the third set for a finger injury before sealing victory on a fifth match point when Thiem fired a backhand long.
Sunday’s final will be Nadal’s 24th Grand Slam final, putting him second all time. Nadal is 49-2 since 2017 when playing on clay.
If there was a scare for Nadal it was an outbreak of cramp in his left hand in the third set, which he managed to shake off, like everything else this fortnight. He won the first six points and broke for 2-0.
Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – the so-called Big Four – have dominated the men’s game to such a degree that Thiem is only the second player now younger than 28 to have reached a major singles final. A few years ago, everyone thought he was done.
After winning just one point in the first two games, Thiem dragged himself back into the contest, only to throw away the opening set with an erratic 10th game as he was broken to love.
His lone opportunity of the set indeed vanished.
Yet he just wouldn’t be denied.