Rafael Nadal claims record-extending 11th French Open crown

The 32 year-old Spaniard earned an incredible eleventh French Open title when swatted away the challenge of Dominic Thiem 6-4 6-3 6-2 to continue his reign as the undisputed king of clay.

The Spaniard lifted his 17th major title at Roland Garros on Sunday, downing Dominic Thiem in his 11th victory in the French capital.

Rafael Nadal's stranglehold on the French Open has endured so long and remains so strong that he has even out-lasted his favorite Court Philippe Chatrier stadium and will probably still be winning the title when it gets a roof in 2020.

This is Nadal's 17th grand slam title.

In 2007, he became the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win a hat-trick of Roland Garros titles.

He led by two sets plus a break early in the third when the middle finger on his racket-wielding left hand was cramping so badly he couldn't straighten it.

"If you tell me seven, eight years ago that I will be here. having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something nearly impossible", Nadal said.

Thiem however was able to hold serve regularly and had a chance to get back on serve but his break chance at 2-4 evaporated when Nadal hit a sublime drop shot, then passing shot.

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Only Rafael Nadal truly knows what he saw reflected when he glanced into the belly of the big silver bowl, but as he pressed his 11th French Open championship trophy against his cheek, his face began to crumple.

Thiem stayed with Nadal in the early going on a cloudy and steamy afternoon; the temperature was 77 degrees (24 Celsius), the humidity approached 70 per cent.

"It's not even a dream to win here 11 times, because its impossible to think of something like this". "What you did and what you are doing is the most outstanding thing that any athlete can achieve in sport". "I am sure you'll win here in the next couple of years". He took the biggest of big cuts on groundstrokes, his feet leaving the ground as he threw his whole body into them, as if the very outcome - not of any individual point, but the whole shebang - depended on the strength of that one whip of his white racket.

Thiem dug in - especially in the roughly 13-minute sixth game - but he crumbled attempting to stay in the set, making four unforced errors.

It worked. For a bit. Midway through the opening set, Nadal's aqua T-shirt was so soaked with sweat it stuck to him, so he changed into a fresh one at a changeover, drawing catcalls from spectators. 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.

From 4-all, 15-all in the opening set, Thiem faltered. A volley into the net. It was his best performance of the fortnight, as Nadal confirmed on court, just when he needed it most.

After winning 26 of his 27 matches throughout the European claycourt season and 81 of his last 86 sets on clay, there is nothing to suggest Nadal's domination in Paris will end soon.

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