News World Nadal beats Thiem to claim record-stretching 12th French Open title

Nadal beats Thiem to claim record-stretching 12th French Open title

Defying the years and one of the most fierce onslaughts he has ever faced at Roland Garros, Rafa Nadal won his 12th French Open crown on Sunday, leaving Dominic Thiem crushed and a packed Parisian stadium shaking their heads in wonder.

The first set had been one for the ages, the second ran it close, but after three hours and one solitary minute all that mattered was that Nadal was once again in familiar pose, flat on his back in the clay, a 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 winner to clinch his 18th Grand Slam triumph in total.

For much of this final, rarely, if ever, has any opponent played so well against Nadal on this Philippe Chatrier centre court.

Rarely, if ever, has the best of the young guns Thiem struck the ball so firmly, or played with such purpose and aggression.

But it wasn’t enough. Not nearly enough. Not even before Thiem ultimately ran out of steam.

The 33-year-old Nadal, who becomes the first player to win the same Grand Slam title 12 times, going past Margaret Court’s 11 Australian Opens, now sits just two major titles behind his great foe and men’s Grand Slam title record holder, 37-year-old Roger Federer.

“It’s incredible. I can’t explain the feeling,” Nadal told the crowd.

“For me it was a dream to play here in 2005, and I could not imagine I would be back here in 2019. It’s a very special moment for me.

“I want to say congratulations to Dominic. I feel sorry… he deserves it. He has absolute intensity and passion for this sport. I wish him all the best for the future.”

MENTAL TOLL

Physically, Thiem had looked strong and resolute.

But who can say what mental toll his rain-delayed semi-final victory over world number one Novak Djokovic had taken.

The Austrian had had to play on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and now Sunday while Nadal had had Saturday off, having dispatched Federer on Friday before the rain set in.

Certainly it would have taken a monumental effort to remain mentally positive after playing an opening set as he did, and coming out of it empty handed.

Thiem slammed backhands for all they were worth, cleaned the lines with his forehand, and the sonic boom from his serve resonated around Court Philippe Chatrier.

He grabbed the first break of the match to lead the opener 3-2, but four games later it was all over, 6-3 to Nadal. The Spaniard seemingly another inexorable step towards the crown.

CROWD ERUPTED

It speaks volumes for the world number four Austrian that Thiem came out for the second set in the same fashion – throwing absolutely everything imaginable at his opponent.

Games passed with no break points in sight, and the tension ratcheted ever higher, until the 12th game of the set when it snapped. Nadal rifled a two-fisted backhand just long to hand the levelling set to Thiem.

The French crowd erupted. Thiem clenched his fist. Nadal strode to the sidelines.

But within a flash Nadal had the upper hand again, winning 16 of the next 17 points to lead 4-0 before Thiem could even register any objection. A blink later the set was over, 6-1.

If Thiem had muttered ‘plus ca change’, he’d have been forgiven. So much effort to claw his way back, so little to show for it now.

Few people on the planet can hit a backhand like Thiem, even once. To do it time after time after time is boggling, but that is what it would take to unseat Nadal.

Still the Spaniard rolled on, soaking up Thiem’s best shots, and the cliche beloved of numerous science fiction movies and TV series seemed appropriate: “Resistance is futile”.

So it proved until Thiem’s final ball drifted long and Nadal was again flat on his back in that red clay, adopting the pose that will adorn back pages and websites worldwide.

By this stage, Thiem, too, could only look on in admiration.

“I love this tournament with all my heart, I love you people with all my heart,” he told the crowd. “Of course I am very sad to lose,” he added, before turning to Nadal. ”You are such a legend in our sport we can be really happy you are playing… I will try next year again for sure.”

REUTERS

Top Stories

PM Mitsotakis: Greece-Egypt’s agreement on maritime zones a national success

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday that the agreement between Greece and Egypt for the delimitation of their maritime zones, reached on Thursday,...

Cyprus’ President calls on Cypriots to donate food for Lebanon

Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades has called on Cypriot citizens, companies and businesses to contribute by donating generously to the campaign for collecting specific kinds...

Cyprus rescue teams begin operations in Beirut

Cyprus rescue teams which are in Lebanon began their operations since 7 am on Friday, in cooperation with a team from Qatar in Beirut`s...

Toddler almost drowned in Paralimni

A 14-month-old girl almost drowned on Friday morning at Paralimni. According to police, it was around 8:30 am when the baby girl who resides in...

Municipalities in partial suspension of payments

The chairman of the Union of Municipalities Andreas Vyras, revealed the dire financial situation in which the municipalities find themselves due to reduced revenues...

Taste

Octopus ‘Kathisto’ (or Octopus braised in Wine)

Ingredients: 1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil 2 medium onions, chopped fine 1 large octopus, about 2kg (cleaned and kept whole) 3/4 cup dry red wine 1/3 cup...

Homemade lemonade

Ingredients: 1 cup lemon juice 1 cup sugar Method: Thoroughly wash the lemons with soap and warm water. Roll each lemon with the palm of your hand, pressing...

‘Striftaria’ mini cheese pies

Ingredients 1 ½ cup milk 2 tbsps. flour 4 tsps. of butter 3 eggs, slightly beaten + 1 extra with 1 tbs. of milk for spreading 1 pack of...

Mini potato canapes baked on salt

Ingredients Serves: 12 1kg small Cypriot potatoes rock salt, as needed 250g salted butter 300ml full fat cremé frâiche 1 pot cod or salmon roe Method Prep:20min › Cook:35min › Ready in:55min Take...