'Scared' Nadal Beats Thiem at French Open

The Spaniard claims his 17th Grand Slam title
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 10, 2018 11:38 AM CDT

(Newser) – Rafael Nadal won his record-extending 11th championship at the French Open on Sunday, overcoming a late problem with a finger on his racket-swinging hand and displaying his foe-rattling best for a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem, the only person to beat the Spaniard on clay over the past two seasons, the AP reports. Up a break at 2-1 in the third set, Nadal stopped serving after a fault because he couldn't straighten his left middle finger. At the following changeover, Nadal was given a salt pill by a doctor and had his left forearm massaged by a trainer. "Tough moment in the third set when I got a little bit cramped on the hand," Nadal says. "I was very scared." Thiem had reason for nerves too: The 24-year-old from Austria was appearing in a major final for the first time.

Thiem pounded huge serves, topping 135 mph—about 25 mph more than Nadal's fastest—and that translated into seven aces, but also five double-faults. He attempted drop shots; some worked, some didn't. And he took the biggest of big cuts on his groundstrokes, his feet leaving the ground as he threw his whole body into them, as if the very outcome of the match depended on the strength of that one whip of his white racket. But from 4-all, 15-all in the opening set, Thiem faltered. After Nadal held there for 5-4, Thiem basically handed over the next game—and the set—by making four mistakes in a row. Soon Nadal was finding his spots with forehand winners, and ended up celebrating his 17th Grand Slam title overall, second among men only to Roger Federer's 20.

(Read more tennis stories.)

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