Rafael Nadal Lifts Record 11th French Open Title

CLIVE BRUNSKILL  GETTY IMAGES 
 
   Rafa Nadal of Spain lost just one set on his way to winning his 11th French Open crown

CLIVE BRUNSKILL GETTY IMAGES Rafa Nadal of Spain lost just one set on his way to winning his 11th French Open crown

Playing the King of Clay at the French Open is akin to scaling Mont Blanc without ropes and even an intrepid adventurer from Europe's Alpine heartland found it a peak too steep as Rafael Nadal stormed to an 11th men's singles title at Roland Garros.

The 32-year-old world number one now has 17 Grand Slam titles, just three behind his great rival Roger Federer, who skipped the clay for the second year running but will return for the upcoming grass court season.

Juan Martin del Potro, who was run ragged by the world number one on Court Philippe Chatrier in this year's semi-finals, was right to state that it's nearly impossible to beat Nadal on clay.

Currently, Nadal is three victories shy of the titles clinched by Federer, who is four years older than him. But after, the Spaniard was imperious. 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.

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

After lifting his record-extending 11th title at Roland Garros on Sunday, Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal stayed positive about his future, insisting that tennis is undoubtedly an important part of his life, but not everything.

Others - including United States 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.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News.

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'I've seen very few good examples, maybe five, in my life, but I think otherwise it's a recipe for mutual misery'.

Before her loss to Halep, Stephens, 25, eliminated Madison Keys, 23, in the first all-American semifinal at the French Open since 2002, when Williams defeated Jennifer Capriati.

"Physically, I enjoyed (it) more watching him on the couch, " Thiem said with a smile. Thiem tied the score at 2-2, before going down 5-4. Thiem was hammering every ball that he could, and Nadal was responding with his classic clay court defense.

Sunday's score might have looked rather routine, but there was some drama in the third set in sticky Paris when Nadal called for the trainer at 2-1, 30-0. 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).

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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.

"It's hard for me to think about it now". In Madrid, Thiem thrived in the quicker, higher altitude conditions to win their quarter-final in straight sets. After guzzling water during that break, Nadal felt better and was back to playing his unmistakable brand of almost unbeatable clay-court tennis.

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