Nadal scales heights again to claim 11th French title

World number one Rafael Nadal won an 11th French Open title by beating Austria's Dominic Thiem in straight sets.

At 2-1 in the fourth set, Nadal stopped serving during a game because he couldn't straighten his left middle finger.

There was late anxiety for Nadal as the predicted thunderstorms loomed and he needed his left forearm massaged after beginning to suffer from cramp.

Nadal's 11th title takes his grand slam tally to 17 and even at 32, despite the miles in his legs, who is going to stop him making it 12 in a year's time?

He was the only man to beat Nadal on clay over the past two seasons, doing so twice.

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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.

Nadal has never lost a best-of-five-set match on clay when he has won the first set, and every time Thiem has faced the world number one the victor of the first set has gone on to take the match.

Nadal was rampant when he broke early in the second but Thiem raised his game to force a break point when Nadal served at 4-2 - a game in which the Spaniard was warned for slow play. Nadal's "La Decima" was his 10th French Open, and he managed it without dropping a set throughout the tournament.

Thiem was on the couch, watching on TV, in 2005, when Nadal earned his first Grand Slam trophy in Paris at age 19.

Nadal came in looking slightly more vulnerable than he did a year ago, in which he lost only 35 games in claiming the title.

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Nadal struck 26 winners to Thiem's 34 yet made only 24 unforced errors to Thiem's 42, with "unforced errors" a relative term in Nadal Roland Garros matches.

He also let four match points go at 5-2 but he would not be denied as Thiem went long with a backhand on the fifth.

It was more of the same in the second, as Nadal won the opening three games in quick time to take a commanding lead he would never relinquish.

"It's fantastic, bravo. I saw you win this in 2005 when I was just 11 years old". A forehand wide. A forehand into the net. Midway through the opening set, Nadal's aqua T-shirt was so soaked with sweat it stuck to him, so he changed into a fresh one at a changeover, drawing catcalls from spectators.

By then, Nadal was finding his spots. Another forehand victor from Nadal followed, and this time Thiem looked up toward his coach and yelled.

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The tears that welled up when Nadal received the Coupe des Mousquetaires from Australian great Ken Rosewall showed just how much he still cares.

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