Records no match for rampaging Rafa
RAFAEL Nadal says he will not let any physical limitations stop him from achieving more grand slam success after winning a record-extending 11th French Open title.
The 32-year-old world No. 1 earned a 6-4 6-3 6-2 over Austria's Dominic Thiem to retain his Roland Garros crown despite complaining of a wrist and finger injury in the third set.
However, Nadal triumphed in dominant style to win his 17th grand slam title, just three major honours behind Roger Federer's all-time record of 20. The Spaniard remains confident and ambitious to win more and says he isn't concerned about his age or chasing history.
"Winning here after having the clay-court season that I had is emotional and that gives me calm and confidence to keep going," said Nadal. "If you tell me seven, eight years ago that I will be here, 32 years old, having this trophy with me again, I would tell you that is something almost impossible, but here we are. I am not much worried about the future.
"If you don't have the will to improve, you don't understand the sport, because the sport is always about improving. That's the meaning of sport. It's playing with the dream of doing something better than what you're doing before.
"There is no limit. You never know where is the limit."
Federer will return for the upcoming grass season and when asked about his record, Nadal said he has "no obsession" about matching and overtaking the Swiss superstar's achievements.
"I never have been crazy about all this kind of stuff," said Nadal. "You can't be frustrated always if somebody has more money than you, if somebody has a bigger house than you, if somebody has more grand slams than you. You have to do (it) your way.
"Because if you are looking next to you, you can be frustrated thinking that people have more things than you in general terms. I am not this kind of person. Of course I would love to have 20 like Roger in the future or even more, but being honest, is something that is not in my mind.
"I feel very lucky to all of the things that have happened to me. I am enjoying that moment. And that doesn't mean that I will not keep fighting for more chances in the future, in the next tournaments."
Nadal was at his awe-inspiring best as he crushed Thiem in straight sets. He took his Roland Garros record to 86-2 as he demolished the seventh seed, who was hoping to become the second Austrian to win at Roland Garros.
In 11 finals in Paris, Nadal has only lost six sets as he matched the all-time record of most singles titles won at the same grand slam event set by Margaret Court at the Australian Open during the 1960s and 70s.
Sunday's result marks the sixth consecutive slam won by either Nadal or Federer.
The muscular Spaniard had won all 10 of his previous Roland Garros finals and although Thiem was the only man to have beaten him on clay over the past two seasons, the Austrian never threatened the clay-court master on Monday morning (AEST). Nadal called on the trainer to get his forearms massaged twice in the final set but even that problem failed to improve Thiem's chances of emulating fellow Austrian Thomas Muster's 1995 triumph.
"It's amazing now, I can't describe my feelings," Nadal told the crowd. "It's not even a dream to win here 11 times, because its impossible to think of something like this."
Nadal got off to a dream start, pocketing the first six points of the match as he broke Thiem in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead.
Thiem broke back immediately as he continued to go for his shots, and he saw off a break point to hold for 2-2.
Nadal, however, turned the screw in the 10th game and Thiem seemed to grow nervous, sending a forehand long to hand his opponent the opening set. The top seed went 2-0 ahead in the second set as he wore Thiem down in lung- burning rallies, leaving the Austrian screaming in frustration. Thiem found some life and threatened with a break point in the seventh game, but Nadal broke his pace with a drop shot and finished it off with a passing shot, holding for 5-2.
He bagged the second set when Thiem sent a backhand long.
Thiem was still on the back foot in the third set, being forced to save four break points in the first game. He dropped serve in the third and Nadal held for 3-1 after taking a time-out because of a sore hand.
He then had his forearm massaged at the changeover before resuming his demolition job. Nadal had another massage at 5-2 and ended Thiem's ordeal on his fifth match point when the Austrian returned long.
- AAP, Reuters