Rafael Nadal put away Dominic Thiem in impressive fashion after a competitive first two sets to win his record 12th French Open championship on Sunday.
Thiem stood toe-to-toe with Nadal early in the final, splitting the first two sets to give the defending champion his first real test of the 2019 French Open.
Nadal Enjoys ‘Very Special Moment’
But Nadal responded with a dominating performance that left no doubt as to who was the best clay court tennis player on the planet. Thiem simply couldn’t compete in the final two sets of Nadal’s 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory.
The lopsided score in the final two sets was somewhat misleading, as Thiem had multiple chances to break early in the fourth set. But ultimately, Nadal was just too much for the 25-year-old Austrian, who has now lost to the Spanish legend in two straight French Open finals.
“I love this tournament with all my heart,” Thiem said on the court after the match. “Of course I am very sad to lose.”
The win gives the 33-year-old Nadal the most wins ever by any player at any Grand Slam tournament. He already held the men’s record, but he now stands alone, having surpassed Margaret Court’s mark of 11 Australian Open titles. He also has 18 Grand Slam titles in total, only two behind Roger Federer for the most all-time in men’s play.
“It’s incredible. I can’t explain the feeling,” Nadal told the crowd after the match. “For me, it was a dream to play here in 2005, and I could not imagine I would be back here in 2019. It’s a very special moment for me.”
Nadal plans to play in Wimbledon, though he says he won’t play in any grass court warmup tournaments beforehand – a move designed to protect his body, much as Roger Federer has done by skipping clay court season in some years.
Even a fully-rested Nadal won’t be the favorite at Wimbledon, though he does join his old guard counterparts as the leading picks to win the next Grand Slam title. Novak Djokovic (6/4) is the favorite to win Wimbledon according to William Hill, just ahead of Federer (10/3) with Nadal (13/2) as the third choice. The next closest contender is Alexander Zverev at 14/1.
Barty Plays ‘Perfect Match’ for First Title
The 2019 French Open had a very different – though just as meaningful – significance for Ashleigh Barty. The Australian 23-year-old beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-3 to win her first Grand Slam title, an incredible achievement for a player who once took nearly two years off from tennis in an attempt to play professional cricket instead.
“I played the perfect match today,” Barty said afterwards. “It’s been a magical two weeks.”
Barty’s run didn’t come entirely out of nowhere, as she was the No. 8 seed at Roland Garros. But the victory has definitely put more attention on her, catapulting her into a near co-favorite position for Wimbledon.
Serena Williams (6/1) remains the top choice to win in London. But she is closely followed by Petra Kvitova (13/2) and Barty (7/1), with Naomi Osaka (9/1) also in the mix.