Rafael Nadal Claims 11th Roland Garros Title in Straight Sets over Dominic Thiem
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Rafael Nadal entered as the French Open favorite and left as the French Open champion for the 11th time in his illustrious career. Nadal, the game’s best ever on clay (perhaps by some margin), dropped just one set the entire tournament as he cruised through a crop of solid ATP players to triumph in Paris yet again.
In the final it was Nadal against Austria’s Dominic Thiem, a player that beaten Rafa before on clay, but was contesting his maiden Grand Slam final (having previously reached the semis at Roland Garros). Thiem wasn’t a pushover, and on the surface he’d probably beat anyone else in tennis, but not Nadal. The Spaniard got off to a strong start and in every pressure moment, forced Thiem to buckle under his attack. Nadal prevailed 6-4 6-3 6-2, the scoreline reflecting how he took control of the match as the minutes ticked by. The final point securing Nadal his 17th Grand Slam overall as he continues to chase Roger Federer in tennis history.
Nadal’s path to the final saw him tested in his opening match against Simone Bolelli. The Italian put everything he could into the opening set and nearly took it, but in the end Nadal grinded his way to a three set victory. Guido Pella and Richard Gasquet put up far less resistance in rounds 2 and 3. Max Marterer played a good third set but still lost in straights. The quarterfinal match against Diego Schwartzman was Rafa’s toughest of the tournament. He struggled at the start and went a set and a break down, then the rain came. Forced to come back the next day to complete the match, Schwartzman couldn’t maintain his high level and lost in four sets.Embed from Getty Images
Nadal took on Juan Martin Del Potro in the semis, Del Potro blitzed his way to that stage and was looking to be in great form, but then the Nadal hurricane hit as the Spaniard lost just 7 games and reached the final via straight sets.
Thiem’s path wasn’t so smooth, as he had to battle through the middle rounds. He put away Ilya Ivashka in straights, then defeated Stefanos Tsitipas and Matteo Berrentini in 4 sets. Kei Nishikori pushed him to four at the start of week 2, but after winning that Thiem really found his groove against an exhausted Alexander Zverev and upset hero Marco Cecchinato. Cecchinato stunned Novak Djokovic in the match of the tournament to reach his first ever slam semi, but the rising Italian was no match for Thiem.
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French fans found some joy as Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut continued their strong doubles partnership and took the title over Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic. It’s the third slam title for the French pair, and their first at their home slam in Paris.
Looking ahead, Nadal and Roger Federer will take their battle for world #1 into the grass and hard court seasons, while Thiem looks set to have a strong run on hard courts (at least), Cecchinato will look to consolidate his breakthrough, and Del Potro will look to stay among the game’s elite.Embed from Getty Images