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Rafael Nadal lifts record 11th French Open title

11 June 2018

But if you think it's going to be a simple Sunday stroll for Nadal to get this 11th French Open title, consider that his opponent is a fitting foe on the final stage.

Simona Halep entered Roland Garros at the top of the game with one title she was eager to shed: best player to never win a Slam.

ESPN's Nicolas Pereira breaks down Rafael Nadal's record 11th French Open title following his win in straight sets over Austria's Dominic Thiem.

Nadal, 32, is second behind Federer in the list of all-time Grand Slam titles, three clear of Pete Sampras in third. Over the last two tournaments, he's lost one set.

For the first time ever Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal picked up two grand slam titles each, and the thrilling Australian Open final between the two evergreen legends was a reminder of why the match-up is viewed by most observers as the greatest rivalry in tennis, and possibly even in all of sport.

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That's three behind Federer who is more than four years older.

Everyone else turns up at the French Open expecting him to dominate, yet Nadal is the man who actually has to deliver on those presumptuous expectations.

The score may have looked rather routine but there was some drama in the third set when Nadal called for the trainer at 2-1, 30-0.

Spaniard Nadal reclaimed his French Open title 12 months ago without dropping a set and triumphed at the U.S. Open.

"I am just trying to keep enjoying, and keep playing until my body resist, and my happiness still high playing tennis".

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The number of consecutive sets won on clay by Nadal, breaking the previous record for most consecutive sets won on a single surface by McEnroe, who won 49 on carpet in 1984. Victory also took Nadal's record at Roland Garros to 86 wins and just two losses. But it all starts over again at Roland Garros.

The problem for the 24-year-old was that his serve wasn't co-operating.

The momentary cramp in his left hand gave him a brief scare but he was simply too good, yet again. Yet while Nadal's body language would change completely for the remaining 25 minutes, his normal competitive frown relaxing into a blank, nearly haunted stare - he refused to back down. The Spaniard is a routine victor at the other clay tournaments on the ATP World Tour. I played my best match today, in the final.

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. "It's playing with the dream of doing something better than what you're doing before".

Soderling's advice of being "really aggressive" and taking the game away from Nadal may be sound, but it is nearly impossible to put into practice.

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Rafael Nadal lifts record 11th French Open title