Nadal dealt with that ultimately minor inconvenience and claimed his record-extending 11th French Open championship Sunday by displaying his foe-rattling excellence in a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem.
Others - including USA former tennis great Billie Jean King and ex-male professional James Blake - praised Nadal's victory, which was dominant despite an injury scare with hand cramp in the latter stages of the third set. The signs were already ominous for Thiem at that stage because in 112 best-of-five-set matches, Nadal had never lost after taking the first set.
Nadal is the only second player in history to win the same Grand Slam on 11 occasions after Margaret Court, who won 11 Australian Open titles between 1960 and 1973. But on Sunday, the king of clay chose to wield it like a weapon, and instead of handing the torch over, used it to singe the young pretender. The French Open statisticians are nicer than they should be, as all but one of Thiem's 19 errors in that stretch were unforced (officially, 12 were unforced and seven were forced). He also was aware that Federer might go four clear of Nadal in a month at Wimbledon.
Runner-up Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria, might very well be the second-best player on clay in the world, but there's still a large gap, at least at Roland Garros, where he is 0-3 against Nadal.
- Victory on Sunday gave Nadal his 11th crown at Roland Garros from 11 finals.
"I'd love to have 20 like Roger in the future or more, but it is not something in my mind".
A trainer was called and he briefly inspected Nadal's left wrist.
Nadal has won six of his nine matches against Thiem, all of them coming on that famously hard red clay.
Thanks for the memories: Rafael Nadal’s 11 French Open triumphs
Unlike previous year - when those first few games realistically settled things - Thiem bounced back, breaking straight away.
Nadal then served out that game.
That was swatted away with Nadal's double-handed backhand, though, and the second set duly went the way of the favourite. Thiem broke the Spaniard's serve in the third game of the match, nullifying Nadal's early break but earned only one more break point - which was saved by Nadal.
Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, the world number two, skipped the clay court season to concentrate on Wimbledon, where he will be going for a ninth title.
Two breaks later Nadal was in a familiar position, serving for the title, and when another Thiem forehand dropped long, his arms were raised in celebration, yet again.
Nadal's Barcelona Open semifinal win over David Goffin was his 400th tour-level clay-court match win, making him the fourth man in the Open Era to win 400 matches on clay, after Vilas (659), Manuel Orantes (502) and Muster (422).
On the women's side, newly-crowned French Open champion Simona Halep continues to lead the pack.
It made no difference, however, Nadal could probably win this with one hand tied behind his back.More news: U.S., Mexico, & Canada to Host 2026 World Cup