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Nadal sweeps Thiem to claim 11th title at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball during the men's singles final against Dominic Thiem of Austria at the French Open Tennis Tournament 2018 in Paris, France on June 10, 2018. (Xinhua/Chen Yichen)

PARIS, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal powered past Austrian promising star Dominic Thiem in straight sets here on Sunday, claiming his record-extending 11th title along with an eye-catching 86-2 record at Roland Garros.

Following his 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Thiem in men's singles final at the 2018 French Open, Nadal became the second player in history to have won 11 singles titles at any Grand Slam event after Margaret Court, and the first player in the Open Era to have won 11 titles at three different Tour-level events, as he had done at ATP Monte-Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open.

Tears were clearly seen in Nadal's eyes when he stood on the podium with trophy in his hand.

"It's difficult to explain because it becomes a little bit natural," he said at the press conference. "I achieved much more than what I ever dreamed. But at the same time, it's true that I went through tough moments, a lot of times in terms of injuries."

Nadal, who led 6-3 in previous head-to-heads, broke Thiem's service in the second game, before the Austrian had his own response to move level at 2-all through a break.

Thiem was the only player to have defeated Nadal on clay prior to Roland Garros for the second straight year, and his quarterfinal victory over Nadal at the Madrid Masters snapped the Spaniard's 50-set winning streak on clay.

He displayed his lethal weapon of single-handed backhand, while being troubled by unfavorable performance on his first serves, conceding the first set 6-4.

Thiem already suffered four double faults despite four aces at the start of the second set, while Nadal maintained all of his serves in the second set to move a step further at 6-3.

Thiem save three break points to hold his service into the third set, but the "King of Clay" responded by fully exhibiting his powerful forehand for astute winners.

Thiem was hampered by his many unforced errors after long rallies. Nadal finished another break in the third game to move in front, while injuring his left middle finger midway through the fourth game. He continued his momentum following the medical timeout, and managed to convert his fifth match point on Thiem's poor backhand in the eighth game.

After claiming his 17th career Grand Slam title, Nadal was set to retain his top position at the latest ATP rankings ahead of archrival Roger Federer.

Nadal also closed the gap on Federer, who won on 20 occasions, on the all-time list for most Grand Slam men's singles titles.

"Let me enjoy this title," Nadal said with a smile. "I have ambition and passion for what I am doing. But I never have been crazy about all this kind of stuff.

"I would love to have 20 like Roger in the future or even more, but being honest, it's something that is not in my mind. What is in my mind now is that I won a very important title for me," he added.

Nadal's victory on Sunday meant that all past six Grand Slam titles have been won by either Federer or himself.

Thiem failed to become the second Austrian player in history to win a Grand Slam title after the 1995 Roland Garros champion Thomas Muster, while having already posted his best result at Grand Slams with a final appearance in Paris and being destined to rise to No. 7 on next week's world rankings.

"It was a special thing for me to play the first Slam finals. But on the other hand, I was pretty calm and I knew that I go into it like it would be any other match," said Thiem.

"I was really fighting and playing from the first to the last moment.

"I'm confident that this was not my last Grand Slam finals, and that's my biggest goal, to get into the next one and then to do it better than today," he added.

Earlier on Sunday, No. 6 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, both of Czech Republic, lifted the women's doubles trophy after breezing past Japanese duo of Hozumi Eri and Ninomiya Makoto 6-3, 6-3.

[ Editor: Zhang Zhou ]