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History man Nadal cruises to 12th French Open title

PARIS, France – Rafael Nadal swept to a historic 12th French Open title and 18th Grand Slam crown on Sunday with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Austria's Dominic Thiem on Sunday, June 9. 

The 33-year-old Spaniard becomes the first player – man or woman – to win the same Slam 12 times after seeing off a brave challenge from a weary Thiem in a repeat of the 2018 final.

Nadal is now just two behind the all-time record of 20 majors set by Roger Federer and 3 ahead of Novak Djokovic, who was knocked out by Thiem in the semifinals.

The world No. 2 also took his Paris record to an astonishing 93 wins and just 2 losses, having previously won the title in 2005 to 2008, 2010 to 2014, 2017, and 2018.

Merci @rolandgarros for this amazing experience. 12!! Still can't believe it pic.twitter.com/iNj8Me4iRJ — Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) June 9, 2019

"I want to say congratulations to Dominic. I feel sorry as he deserves to win it as well," said Nadal.

"But he has every chance in the future. He has unbelievable talent for the sport and I want to encourage him for the future."

"It's a dream to win again, an incredible moment. When I first played here in 2005, I never thought I would be still playing here in 2019."

"It's very special for me."

The triumph confirmed the "Big Three" stranglehold on the Grand Slams having shared the last 10 between them.

It also gave Nadal an 82nd career title and 950th match win.

"It's very tough. I gave everything these last two weeks," said Thiem, who had 7 fewer winners and 7 more unforced errors in the final.

"Rafa, well done. You are an amazing champion and a legend in our sport.

"I am happy that you are playing. To win 12 times, it's unreal."

"I will try again, for sure."

"I gave everything I had. I honestly love this tournament with all my heart." Same, @ThiemDomi #RG19 pic.twitter.com/XqBnLYN7GD — Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2019

In a 53-minute 1st set of brutal hitting and raw physicality, it was Thiem who broke first for a 3-2 lead.

But the 25-year-old's joy was short-lived as Nadal retrieved the break in the sixth game before racing away with the next 3 games to pocket the opener. 

Thiem, who had beaten his opponent 4 times on clay in his career, failed to claim a single point off Nadal's first 5 service games of the 2nd set.

However, the dogged Austrian pushed and pushed, forced Nadal into 3 rushed groundstrokes and, from nowhere, broke to take the 2nd set.

It was the 1st set he had managed to take off Nadal at Roland Garros after 3 previous defeats.

Nadal was riled by the insult.

23 wins in a row at Roland-Garros… @RafaelNadal wins his 12th title in Paris 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 over Dominic Thiem. https://t.co/uLebPf6COb #RG19 pic.twitter.com/yEoAq1ghdE — Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2019

He swept the first 10 points of the 3rd set, carving out a double break for 3-0 before sweeping to a third break for the set.

Thiem, bidding to become Austria's second Grand Slam champion after Thomas Muster won in Paris in 1995, had played 4 successive days to reach the final and the toll was slowly telling.

He wasted break points in the first and third games of the 4th set and Nadal pounced to stretch to 3-0.

That was soon 5-1 and the relentless barrage continued with Nadal taking the title on a second match point when Thiem fired a return long. – Rappler.com