PARIS • Rafael Nadal claimed an 11th French Open title at Roland Garros yesterday with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 demolition of Austria's Dominic Thiem despite a worrying injury scare in the closing stages of the men's singles final.
The world No. 1 Spaniard now has 17 Grand Slam titles, just three behind great rival Roger Federer.
The 32-year-old endured a nervy conclusion to the final, however, when he needed treatment in the fourth game of the third set for a finger injury before sealing victory on a fifth match point when Thiem fired a backhand long.
"It's really incredible. I played a great match against a great player," said Nadal. "I had tough moment in the third set with cramps in my hand. I was very scared but that's sport - it was very humid. To win 11 times here - it's fantastic and not something I ever dreamed of."
Nadal joins Australia's Margaret Court as the only player to win 11 titles at the same major. Victory also took Nadal's record at Roland Garros to 86 wins and just two losses.
For Thiem, playing in his first Slam final, it was a tremendous letdown for a player who is the only man to have beaten the Spaniard on clay in the last two years.
Nadal flew out of the blocks when he reeled off the first six points for a 2-0 lead before Thiem settled down and repaired the damage for 2-2.
Despite matching Nadal forehand for forehand, Thiem was undone in the 10th game when three errors handed Nadal the opening set after 52 minutes on court.
A wild, misguided forehand sealed his fate, one of 18 unforced errors to Nadal's 12 in the set.
In their previous nine meetings, all on clay, the man who took the opening set went on to win the match.
That scenario loomed again with Nadal going to 2-0 in the second set on a fifth break point as Thiem fired another backhand wide. Thiem wasted a break point in the seventh game as Nadal collected a time violation for taking too long to serve.
The world No. 1 saved it and went on to secure a 2-0 lead when yet another backhand from the Austrian drifted wide.
Thiem was under the cosh, saving four break points in the first game of the third set before Nadal inevitably broke for 2-1.
Bizarrely, Nadal then halted play in the fourth game, complaining of pain in his left hand and stretching his middle finger.
He still won the game anyway before summoning the doctor and trainer courtside.
Whatever the problem, his dominance remained and a love game took him to 4-2 before he eventially sealed victory on a fifth match point when Thiem fired another backhand long.