Rafael Nadal has a dozen wins at Roland Garros.
Rafael Nadal has a dozen wins at Roland Garros.

‘Simply unreal’: Nadal’s insane feat

Rafael Nadal showed once again why he's the king of clay.

The Spaniard moved to 18 Grand Slam titles for his career, just two behind Roger Federer's 20 with his remarkable four-set victory over Dominic Thiem in the French Open Men's final.

It looked to be an arm-wrestle between the two best clay courters in the world but Nadal showed he is peerless on the surface with a 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 win to seal his 12th French Open crown.

Nadal has won the event 12 times from 15 attempts, losing twice and withdrawing with a wrist injury in 2016.

He is also the first male player to win 12 singles titles at any Tour-level event, doing it on one of the biggest stages around.

It's Nadal's 23rd straight win at Roland Garros and he now has an insane 93-2 record in Paris.

It's a record so incredible, the man himself could hardly believe how dominant he is.

"It's incredible, it's a dream, since I played here for the first time in 2005, I cannot imagine," he said. "It's a very special moment for me."

The world was quick to bow down to the superstar.

Nadal fell to the court as he has done so many times before when the final ball went long off Thiem's racquet.

But he had some kind words for his vanquished opponent, calling him "one of the best examples we have on the tour".

"The first thing I want to say is congrats to Dominic and I feel sorry for him because he deserves it here too now," Nadal said. "I really hope he has the chance to win the future. He has an unbelievable intensity and unbelivable passion for this sport and he's a very hard worker."


The all too familiar sight of Rafael Nadal lifting the French Open trophy.
The all too familiar sight of Rafael Nadal lifting the French Open trophy.

Thiem admitted it was a difficult way to lose, although he did become the first Austrian to make two Grand Slam finals, having lost back-to-back at Roland Garros to Nadal.

"It's very hard, I gave everything I had these two weeks," he said. "They were really amazing again. I love this tournament with all my heart and you people with all my heart, it's amazing support.

"Rafa, well done. Of course I'm very sad to lose but you're such an amazing champion, such a legend of our sport, we can be really happy that you're playing. It's amazing - 12-times here, it's unreal."

He then describe the feeling of losing perfectly when speaking to John McEnroe.

Nadal and Thiem went head to head in an incredible display of clay court tennis. Nadal was shocked by an early assault from Thiem as the Austrian won the first break point in the fifth game of the match.

But the attempted ambush just poked the bear.

The Spaniard has remarkably never lost a French Open final and hit back much harder, breaking twice to take the first set 6-3.

The first seven games had the commentators frothing at the mouth over the incredible start to the match with the two premier clay court players in the world slugging it out.

Nadal was stunned as Thiem claimed the early break point.

What else could Dominic Thiem do against Rafael Nadal?
What else could Dominic Thiem do against Rafael Nadal?

It's normally Nadal's tactic to blow his opponents off the court early but he was surprised by the Austrian.

But Nadal is not one to lose composure when under pressure and he broke straight back and maintained the rage to win the set.

But Thiem hit back in the second, breaking late to take the set 7-5.

While Thiem's relief was clear, Nadal went to the next level, blasting through the next two sets 6-1 6-1 to seal the result.

In a stunning record, Nadal has never been taken to five sets in a French Open final and it's the third time he's completed a hat-trick of titles at Roland Garros.