Rafael Nadal secured a record-extending 12th French Open title Sunday, overcoming the spirited challenge of Dominic Thiem to win 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1.
For the second year running, Nadal defeated Thiem in the final at Roland Garros to clinch an 18th grand slam crown.
Nadal has won more grand slam titles than every man except for his great rival Roger Federer, who leads the way on 20.
Austria’s Thiem, who has reached just two grand slam finals with both of those being in Paris, recovered from losing the opening set to take a hard-fought second - just the second set Nadal had dropped in the entire tournament.
12 x 🏆@RafaelNadal règne toujours en maître à Roland-Garros. Le roi de la terre battue l'emporte sur Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 pour soulever la Coupe des Mousquetaires une 12e fois.— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2019
📝 : https://t.co/guC6h96ArHhttps://t.co/rcTEl34pf9 | #RG19 pic.twitter.com/lKIhQBzH1T
But the exertions of that set appeared to take their toll on the 25-year-old - playing for a fourth consecutive day due to rain delays - who won just two further games as Nadal dominated the rest of the match.
“The first thing I want to say is congrats to Dominic and sorry because he deserves it too,” said the 33-year-old Nadal.
“I really hope he will get the chance to win in the future because he has a big passion for the sport and he’s a hard worker and I want to encourage him.
“I cannot explain my feelings. For me it was a dream to play here for the first time in 2005. It’s truly incredible and very special for me.”
Thiem congratulated Nadal, who win now look to win a third Wimbledon title at SW19 later this summer.
“It’s very tough right now because I gave everything I had these last two weeks. I love this tournament with all my heart,” said Thiem.
“Rafa, well done. Of course I’m very sad to lose but you’re such an amazing champion, such a legend of our sport. It’s amazing 12 times here, it’s unreal, and I will try next year again for sure.”