Rafa Nadal has beaten Dominic Thiem in the French Open final to become the first man or woman to win the same Grand Slam tournament 12 times.
The ‘King of Clay’ triumphed 6-3 5-7 6-1 against Thiem in a repeat of last year’s final at Roland Garros to move one clear of Margaret Court’s record of 11 wins at the Australia Open over 45 years ago.
Nadal has now won 18 Grand Slam titles in total, two short of Roger Federer’s – who he beat in the semi-final – record of 20.
“The first thing I want to say is congrats to Dominic and sorry because he deserves it too,” the Spaniard said afterwards.
“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.”
The fans at Court Philippe-Chatrier were treated to a thrilling first set which lasted 56 minutes in the French sunshine.
Thiem had beaten Nadal in the Barcelona semi-finals in the spring, and broke against the 33-year-old Spaniard to go 3-2 up.
Nadal, however, recovered instantly, winning the following four games ruthlessly to win the set 6-3.
Thiem’s serve was superb in the second set, and the Austrian triumphed 7-5 to win his first ever set against Nadal in Paris.
Nadal produced some stunning shots in the third as he thundered to a 6-1 victory in just 24 minutes.
He won the fourth set by the same margin, making history in the process.
Thiem, while disappointed, was gracious in defeat.
“It’s very tough right now because I gave everything over the past two weeks,” the 25-year-old said.
“I love this tournament with all my heart, and love all the people with all my heart. Amazing support.
“Of course, I’m very sad to lose but Rafa, you’re just an amazing champion and a legend of our sport. It’s an unreal experience to play against you.”
At 33, Nadal is still producing breath-taking tennis.
Grand Slam number 18 is in the bag, and Federer’s record is firmly in sight.
David is the editor of The Season Ticket.
He is a qualified journalist, and a long-suffering Meath and Liverpool supporter.