Rafael Nadal: the ‘villain’ has become a hero in his own right

Jun 10 2018 Paris France Rafael Nadal poses with the trophy after his men's singles final against Dominic Thiem on day 15

He seemed unbeatable on the surface.

The Austrian pushed Nadal hard early on but his spirit appeared crushed when the Spaniard won his service game to love to secure the first set, going on to win 6-4 6-3 6-2.

Rafael Nadal says he will speak with his team to decide on whether he will participate at Wimbledon next month following his 11th French Open win.

The number of titles won by Nadal on clay, extending his lead at the top of the men's Open Era leaderboard, ahead of Vilas (49) and Austria's Thomas Muster (40). That began a run of four consecutive French Open triumphs through 2008. Nadal, however, soon recovered to complete the match.

His big serving coupled with his aggressive baseline hitting make him a good candidate to make a strong impression and that is without considering the greater experience and physical condition he has acquired, since beginning his fruitful partnership with coach Fredrik Rosengren previous year.

Edmund suffered a five-set third round defeat against Italian clay-court specialist Fabio Fognini to end a positive clay-court season, which included victories against Novak Djokovic and David Goffin.

"When he won here the first four or five times, I was always watching it".

At the Slam before that, the U.S. Open last September, Nadal was the last man standing.

Roger Federer will play two warm-up events to help him prepare for the defence of his Wimbledon and embark on reclaiming the world number one ranking. After Roland Garros, Nadal's win-loss record on clay stands at 415-36. The Spaniard officially withdrew before the start of his third-round match in 2016. Thiem withstood a barrage of break points to hold in a marathon sixth game, which he thought he had won at 40-30 when he left a wide ball, only for the umpire to overrule the line judge. He took the biggest of big cuts on groundstrokes, his feet leaving the ground as he threw his whole body into them, as if the very outcome - not of any individual point, but the whole shebang - depended on the strength of that one whip of his white racket.

That it was not was testimony to Nadal's level, which never wavered, despite everything Thiem threw at him. After serving a fault, Nadal took the unusual step of heading to the sideline in the middle of a game.

"It's my way of thinking, my way to play this sport and I think it helped me to get the experience from all the tournaments to see that I'm able to win the mandatory tournaments and for sure if I'm able to beat these players, who are the same in the Grand Slams, I will one day win a Grand Slam". For a time, fans could nearly believe that Thiem would present a challenge in this match. Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray - the so-called Big Four - have dominated the men's game to such a degree that Thiem is only the second player now younger than 28 to have reached a major singles final.

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