Rafael Nadal won his 12th French Open: The 'King of Clay' dominated Dominic Thiem cementing his status as one of the greatest players in the history of men's tennis

Clive Mason/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal celebrates his 12th French Open title.
  • Rafael Nadal won his 12th French Open title on Sunday, defeating Austrian Dominic Thiem in four sets.
  • Nadal and Thiem traded powerful shots early, but as the match wore on, Nadal asserted his dominance and Thiem couldn’t keep pace.
  • One rally in the third set showed why Nadal is known as the “King of Clay.”
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Rafael Nadal won his unprecented 12th French Open title, defeating Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 on Sunday at Roland-Garros.

The win was another show of Nadal’s sheer dominance on clay over the past two decades. Thiem fought hard through the opening set, and was able to find the break he needed from Nadal to take the second.

At one set apiece, it felt as though Thiem might be able to put up a fight against the “King of Clay,” but Nadal asserted his will on the match through the third and fourth sets, matching Thiem shot for shot and seemingly always finding one more swing to put the point away.

This dynamic displayed itself with one brilliant point played in the third set. With Nadal serving, Thiem sent the Spaniard sprinting back and forth across the court with huge shots, but Nadal refused to let off the gas, pushing forward to play a drop shot that had so much backspin it ran away from Thiem’s late charge at the net.

All Thiem could do was acknowledge the play with a thumbs-up.

With Thiem’s best effort spent to no avail, Nadal would cruise through the final sets of the match to further cement his status as the greatest clay-court player in history.

The win is Nadal’s 18th grand slam title, 12 of which had come at Roland-Garros, trailing only Roger Federer’s 20 grand slam titles for the most in men’s tennis history.

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