Rafael Nadal has 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.
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.
Nadal said afterwards that he feared the worst when the cramp struck: ‘There was a tough moment in the third set, I was very very scared but that’s sport. Today was very humid against a player who pushed me to the limit.
‘I can’t describe my feelings. I played my best match of the tournament, it’s unbelievable and I’m very happy.’
Nadal wept after being handed the trophy by Australian legend Ken Rosewall – who won the inaugural French Open in 1968.
There was grunting and there was timewasting that was, again, overlooked by overgenerous umpiring, but ultimately there can be no arguing that he remains peerless when it comes to the brown dirt.
The younger challengers struggle to land a punch, and the last six men’s Grand Slam titles have now gone in the sequence of Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal.