Nadal battles through cramp to claim French Open crown

Novak Djokovic

GETTYInjuries have hampered Djokovic over the past year as he has slid to 22 in the world

Rafael Nadal's stranglehold on the French Open has endured so long and remains so strong that he has even out-lasted his favorite Court Philippe Chatrier stadium and will probably still be winning the title when it gets a roof in 2020.

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.

Sunday's final will be Nadal's 24th Grand Slam final, putting him second all time.

Rafael Nadal, the 10-time champion only stands in the Austrian's path of winning a major in his first ever slam final.

Beaten French Open finalist Dominic Thiem believes this won't be his only shot at Grand Slam glory. But after, the Spaniard was imperious. The trainer massaged Nadal's forearms twice but it was still not good enough to halt the Spaniard and the job was complete when Thiem's backhand sailed long.

Nadal has not lost at Roland Garros when taking the first set and that record did not look like coming under threat as he continually rebuffed Thiem's attempts to make inroads into his serve, taking the second courtesy of an early break.

There are just three weeks to go until Wimbledon; with Andy Murray's participation in doubt and Novak Djokovic off form and nursing his elbow, Nadal will surely be up there with Roger Federer as the favourites for the biggest title of the year.

Right from the start of the tournament the Nadal camp knew Thiem was the biggest danger, having seen at first hand what the Austrian can do when he defeated their man in Madrid last month.

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Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Nadal also did not win the title in 2016, as he withdrew with an injury before his third-round match. Thiem also made 37 forced errors to Nadal's 21.

Nadal, 32, has won six major titles on grass and hardcourts, but clay is his natural element, like water for Michael Phelps or snow for Marcel Hirscher.

"Rafa, I just want to say well done", he said at the post-match presentation.

Over the best-of-five sets on clay, Nadal improved to 111-2 - it is a figure nearly as imposing as the nearby Eiffel Tower - his lone reverses coming against Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015 at the French Open.

"If you tell me seven, eight years ago that I will be here. having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something nearly impossible", Nadal said.

57 is the number of titles Nadal holds on the clay court.

If there was a scare for Nadal it was an outbreak of cramp in his left hand in the third set, which he managed to shake off, like everything else this fortnight.

Unfortunately for him, Thiem began the second set the same way he ended the first.

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