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Rafael Nadal speaks out on catching Roger Federer's Grand Slam haul

11 June 2018

Nadal has now won 17 Grand Slam titles - three lesser than great rival Roger Federer - and matched the all-time record of most titles won at the same Grand Slam event set by Margaret Court at the Australian Open during the 1960s and 70s.

As Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem warmed up before the French Open final, the booming voice of an announcer at Court Philippe Chatrier called out each player's bona fides.

"I think it was the first time against him here in Roland Garros where it was a fight", said Thiem, who told Nadal he remembered being 11 years old and watching the Spaniard win his first title in 2005.

The younger challengers struggle to land a punch, and the last six men's Grand Slam titles have now gone in the sequence of Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal-Federer-Nadal.

Thiem, who was trying to become only the second Austrian Grand Slam champion after Tomas Muster's 1995 Paris triumph, played his part in the two hour 42 minute tussle but was unable to sustain the high-octane tennis needed to ruffle Nadal.

"Congratulations on winning your 11th title at @rolandgarros, @RafaelNadal!"

When he was recovering from injury this year, for the umpteenth time in his career, he was focused on this title and nothing - certainly not Dominic Thiem - was going to stand in his way.

However, it was not all smooth sailing for Nadal on Sunday, as he started suffering cramps on his left hand in the third set.

The victory also allowed the 32-year-old Nadal to hold onto the No. 1 ranking, just ahead of Federer.

Rain had blighted several days of the tournament to this point, but Sunday saw no showers as Nadal breezed to a victory in straight sets by a score of 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

In full control of the French Open final, a rather familiar position for him, Rafael Nadal suddenly was anxious.

"For me [it] was scary, because I felt that I was not able to move the hand, the finger", Nadal said.

"To win 11 times here - it's fantastic and not something I ever dreamed of".

"What you did and what you are doing", Thiem told Nadal during the trophy ceremony, "is one of the most outstanding things that any athlete is doing in any sport".

From 4-all, 15-all in the opening set, Thiem faltered.

Nadal had never lost in the 112 best-of-five-set matches in which he had won the opening set and Thiem dropped serve early in the second with another over-cooked backhand. A volley into the net.

By then, Nadal was finding his spots. This season no other player, not even the undisputed King of Clay, can count as many match wins on the red dirt as Thiem. Nadal had another massage at 5-2 and he ended Thiem's ordeal on his fifth match point when the Austrian returned long.

Rafael Nadal speaks out on catching Roger Federer's Grand Slam haul