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A French dozen: Rafa Nadal takes 12th Roland Garros title
KING of Clay Rafael Nadal delighted fans yesterday (Sunday) when he broke all records and scooped up his 12th French Open title after a four-set victory against Austria's Dominic Thiem.
Mallorca-born Rafa's 18th major singles title and his third on the trot at Paris' Roland Garros stadium, the Spanish ace only dropped one set to fourth-seeded Thiem – to whom Nadal apologised for beating afterwards.
“I want to say congratulations to Dominic – I feel sorry, because he deserves it. I really hope he has a chance to win in the future,” Rafa told reporters after the three-hour, four-minute match.
It is the second time he has beaten Thiem in a Roland Garros final, but this time he looked to have a battle on his hands – by the end of the second set, on 6-3 5-7, it appeared the match could go either way.
But wrapping up sets three and four 6-1, 6-1 thanks to Thiem's last forehand going long, an exhausted and triumphant Rafa fell to the ground, knowing he had now netted his dozen at the Paris stadium, meaning two-thirds of his major singles titles have been at his favourite venue.
Thiem, 25, had vastly improved since they last faced each other across the court at Roland Garros, having taken on new coach, Chile's Nicolás Massu, an Olympic gold medallist, and his efforts were described as 'super-human' – in fact, this is the first time he had ever taken a set off Rafa in the four matches they have played to date at the French Open.
He said he 'gave everything he had' in the two-week tournament, and his defeat in the final was 'very tough', but called Nadal 'an amazing champion' and 'a legend' of the sport.
“I'll try again next year, for sure!” he concluded.
But with the soon-to-be-married Rafa now having snaffled twice as many Roland Garros trophies as his nearest 'rival', Björn Börg, who, again, had taken twice as many as the most successful of any of the other players, Thiem looks to have to wait a few years before he is likely to take the title.
Nadal, however, said that 'if he had wanted to lose', it would have been to Thiem.
Photograph: French Tennis Federation (FFT)
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