Rafa Nadal has been enjoying a love affair with Paris and in particular the French Open for over a decade and now that he has won his eleventh title at Roland Garros, the bod he has with the place is even greater.
Nadal has played another fantastic match to beat Domuinic Thiem 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 and in doing so has become the only player in the open era and just the second player in tennis history to win eleven titles at the same major.
“Memories are forever, and I have incredible memories of this event,” Mr. Nadal said. “I don’t want to start explaining all the memories that I have, because are so long. But since the first time that I came here until today is a love story with this event, not only with the victories, but this is all about the people who is working the event, too. I feel very close to all of them.
“Yeah, all the people who take care of the event, all the girls that are working, and men here on the lobby. I feel close, happy. I enjoy here watching them all day. And the same when I’m coming here to play Bercy, I like to see this great team of human people that make this event very special.”
Nadal got off to a quick start with an early break but the Austrian rebounded soon after. The First eight games of the final were competitive even though Nadal had a slight edge. Thiem was started to get frustrated because he was struggling to penetrate through his opponent’s spirit.
When Nadal broke serve to win the first set, there was a sense that this was not going to be Dominic’s day. The Spaniard was brutal with so many of his returns and Thiem was being rocked on his heels. Often, he would gesticulate in frustration, wondering what to do.
However, in the third set there was an incident that Nadal described as scary. The middle finger of his left hand stiffened, the physio said it was cramp.
On court Thiem explained that as an eleven year old he watched Rafa Nadal win his first French Open in 2005 and dreamed one day of the opportunity to play such a final. Watching was certainly a lot easier physically and mentally but he wouldn’t swap the experience for anything.
“Physically I enjoyed more watching him on the couch,” he said smiling. “But when he won here the first time, actually when he won here the first four or five times, I was always watching it. Of course, it’s really a great thing that I made my way and that I was competing in a final against him. It’s a really great thing, honestly, but still I’m disappointed, of course. It was a final. I really wanted to win.
“I gave everything I had, and I’m the loser of today. So at the end, it’s not the best day. I think it was the first time against him here in Roland Garros where it was a fight. It was a decent match from my side. He was playing very well, I think, and there is a reason why he won 11 times here. It’s definitely one of the best things somebody ever achieved in sport.
“For sure, me, I’m confident that this was not my last Grand Slam finals, and that’s my biggest goal, to get into the next one and then to do it better than this one.”
This is Nadal’s 79th career title, his 57th clay title and 17th major which puts him three behind Roger Federer’s record.
“Let me enjoy this title,” he said. “No, no, no, I can’t be always thinking of more. Of course, I have ambition, of course. I have passion for what I am doing and I feel very lucky with all the things that happened it me.
“Of course I would love to have 20 like Roger in the future or even more, but being honest, is something that is not in my mind. What is in my mind now is I won a very important title for me. I add one more Grand Slam. 17 is an amazing number. I feel very lucky to all of the things that have happened to me. I am enjoying that moment.”
The doubles title went to Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert, they defeated Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic 6-2, 7-6.