Thiem waits an age as Nadal moves his bottles

Jun 11, 2018, 07:47
Thiem waits an age as Nadal moves his bottles

Nadal's Barcelona Open semifinal win over David Goffin was his 400th tour-level clay-court match win, making him the fourth man in the Open Era to win 400 matches on clay, after Vilas (659), Manuel Orantes (502) and Muster (422). The Spaniard got early breaks in the second and third set, to keep a battling, but baffled, Thiem at bay.

"For me, the motivation to play here always is high, high as possible", said Nadal after breezing past Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in Friday's semi-finals in what was his 85th win in Paris against just two defeats.

Prior to today's match, Nadal, 32, has won a record 10 titles in Paris and has lost only twice at the tournament since his debut in 2005.

Rafael Nadal admits that his desire to clinch an 11th French Open title on Sunday is fired by his growing realisation that the end of his career may not be too far away.

German footballer Mario Gotze - who is not in Russian Federation with the national team but who scored the winning goal for his team in the final in Brazil four years ago - also paid tribute to Nadal.

The tears that welled up when Nadal received the Coupe des Mousquetaires from Australian great Ken Rosewall showed just how much he still cares.

Years ago, Rafael Nadal earned the nickname the "King of Clay" for a reason.

But most of what transpired Sunday afternoon was eminently familiar: The distinctive roar of appreciation when the Spanish superstar walked into the stadium, the whirring accompaniment of photographers' motor drives as he tossed the ball skyward, the sense that when he closed out the first set, it was ballgame on center court even though it was best-of-five on paper.

Nadal struck first in an enthralling opening set, breaking Thiem's first service game to take a two-game lead but they were back on serve immediately as the Austrian hit back.

There was a nervy moment when Nadal called his trainer to the court on several occasions as he appeared to be suffering from cramp in the fingers of his racket hand.

Nadal, 32, is second behind Federer in the list of all-time Grand Slam titles, three clear of Pete Sampras in third. "I love the tournament", Thiem told the crowd.

Unfortunately for him, Thiem began the second set the same way he ended the first. After Roland Garros, Nadal's win-loss record on clay stands at 415-36.

The Spaniard was quick to hammer home his advantage at the start of the second, converting his fifth break point of a lengthy game as Thiem's usually trusty backhand let him down.

Thus, the task ahead of 24-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem-competing in his first-ever Grand Slam final-seemed impossible.

He now has three grand slam titles since turning 30.

Thiem was considered the stiffest test for Nadal at the French Open and understandably so.

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