Rafael Nadal Coasts to 2018 French Open Title with Win over Dominic Thiem

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2018

Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts during his men's singles final match against Austria's Dominic Thiem, on day fifteen of The Roland Garros 2018 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 10, 2018. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)        (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)
CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal's reign as the clay court king isn't ending any time soon.

On Sunday, the world No. 1 defeated seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 at Roland Garros to capture his 11th French Open title.

Nadal now owns 17 Grand Slam championships.

   

Nadal Uses Versatile Attack to Continue French Open Dominance

As the saying goes, there are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and Rafael Nadal on clay.

OK, maybe that's not how the saying goes. But it might as well be.

Nadal entered Sunday's final 85-2 lifetime at Roland Garros, and that fact alone put Thiem in a precarious position before the proceedings even got underway.

The situation was even more perilous after the first set.

Though Thiem stood tall and broke Nadal early in the opening frame, he fell apart with a chance to knot things at five games apiece and ceded the set to Nadal at love.

At that point, he didn't stand a chance:

Nadal put on a masterclass the rest of the way, attacking the Austrian from a variety of angles and with varying speeds. Key in that regard was Nadal's backhand, which consistently flustered Thiem, who didn't have the same bag of tricks at his disposal.

Thiem was left to try to swing for the fences with his booming serve and forehand. But against Nadal, a lack of variance in his game proved crippling. Nadal finished with 24 unforced errors compared to Thiem's 42, and he racked up a 16-8 advantage in net points.

Advantage: Rafa.

   

Despite Loss, Thiem Will Have Time in Spotlight

Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

Still, it's not all doom and gloom for Thiem.

In fact, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

While it may be a few years before Nadal is no longer at the peak of his powers on clay, Thiem looks like a worthy successor to the Spaniard.

And Nadal knows it.

"He's one of the best players in the world on this surface," he said, per CNN's Ravi Ubha.

"You know when you start the clay court season that Dominic—he's one of these players that have the chance to win every tournament that he's playing and maybe even more here in Roland Garros because he's strong physically. He has the power."

In fact, Thiem is so good on clay that he has downed Nadal three times on the surface, including earlier this year at the Madrid Open.

Assuming he can add a few more wrinkles to his game and channel a bit more discipline on the Grand Slam stage, it's likely just a matter of time before Thiem falls to the clay at Court Philippe Chatrier to revel in personal triumph.

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