RAFAEL NADAL overcame Dominic Thiem and some worrying last-gasp cramps to win an 11th French Open title.
Nadal wore the Austrian down and was cruising to victory until he was struck by physical problems in the fourth game of the third set.
Nadal said: “It’s truly unbelievable.
“It was my best match of the tournament and I needed to play well because Dominic is a very aggressive player.
“When I got problems in my hand I was very scared. Today was very humid.
“I can’t describe my feelings. It’s not even a dream to win here 11 times, because it’s impossible to think of something like this.”
In the history of tennis, only Margaret Court has won 11 singles titles at the same Slam.
With due respect to the amazing Australian, Nadal has done it on the toughest surface of all in the greatest era of men’s tennis.
It is a staggering achievement.
On the day, Nadal’s body posed a greater threat to him than Thiem.
The Austrian made a nervous start, dropping his serve in the opening game.
But the first-time Slam finalist broke back quickly and was hanging with Nadal until a poor 10th game gifted the champion the set.
The Spaniard loves to be a front-runner and Thiem was unable to wrest the momentum back, again losing his serve early in the second set.
Nadal saved a break point in the seventh game but otherwise seemed on course for a relatively comfortable win, especially when he once more took the Thiem serve at the start of the third.
But there was unexpected drama when he rushed to his chair on a second serve to find fluids and tablets to replace what he had lost in some great rallies against Thiem.
The Austrian could see a glimmer of hope but was unable to force his way back into the match.
Instead he lost his serve again to give Nadal the chance to serve for the title.
Even then there were doubts, as Thiem saved four championship points. But his return went long on the fifth and history was made.