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Immovable, unmatched Nadal a pillar of the Paris clay with 12th title

Roland Garros keeps changing its look and shape in the 21st century. It is vaster and more avant-garde, and perhaps it will become less crowded in the passageways as tennis fans shuffle from match to match.

The No.1 Court, known as the bullring, will soon be demolished. The No.2 Court, with its enchanting lack of symmetry, is already gone. Even the main Philippe Chatrier Court, where Rafael Nadal won his 12th French Open singles title on Sunday, was reconstructed in the past year.

Clay master: Rafael Nadal wears the red of Rolland Garros after winning his 12th French Open title.

Clay master: Rafael Nadal wears the red of Rolland Garros after winning his 12th French Open title. Credit:AP

It might be hard to believe at this stage, but Nadal will fade from view someday, too. Or at least hell spend mens final day in the front row of the presidents box, his water bottles surely still in order, instead of in the arena with his socks coated in red clay and his poor opponents failing to find, to use one of his favourite English words, solutions. But for now, and for honestly who knows how much longer, Nadal, 33, remains a pillar of the place: more immovable, as it turns out, than many a stadium.

He has cemented his reputation and legacy year after year, duel after duel, rout after rout. He added another layer of mortar by holding off Dominic Thiem, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, in what was a dazzler of a final for exactly two high-powered, spectacularly athletic sets.

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Rafa's dozen: Nadal poses with the French Open trophy after beating Dominic Thiem in the final.

Rafa's dozen: Nadal poses with the French Open trophy after beating Dominic Thiem in the final.Credit:AP

“The first set was unbelievably intense; the second as well,” Thiem said. “Maybe I had a little drop in the third set, I dont know, but against other players, its not that dramatic, a little drop like that physically and also tennis-wise. But him, such a great champion, he uses the situation and goes all in.”

Nadal has been giving it all in Paris and elsewhere since 2005, and he is now 12-0 in finals at Roland Garros. That is not a typo. His only two losses at any stage at this event came in the fourth round in 2009 to Robin Soderling and in the quarter-finals in 2015 to Novak Djokovic. (In 2016, he withdrew with an injury after the second round.)

Other than that, it has been “Vamos Rafa!” Former French star Fabrice Santoro began his post-match interview with Nadal on Sunday by reeling off all the years he had prevailed in Paris: “2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2019.”

It sounded more like a mantra than a question, and well before Santoro finished off the list, Nadal was scratching his head and looking slightly embarrassed. He has such gaudy stats, yet away from the clay he is more into understatement. But awkward moments are his own fault for enduring and winning beyond any reasonable expectation.

“I cant explain it,” Nadal said. “My feeling for me is its a dream. When I played the first time here in 2005, I could not think that Id be coming back here in 2019.”

Much less still winning in 2019, but on he reigns. If they are not going to retire the trophy and give Nadal the Coupe des Mousquetaires permanently (not a bad idea), it must surely be in need of repair at this stage after all the celebratory bites he has taken out of it.

Such outrageous dominance has not been to the liking of those who prefer a healthy dose of suspense, but it is one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of professional sports.

“You are not going to see another guy win 12 French opens,” said Nicolás Massú, Thiems coach.
Nadal has doubled Bjorn Borg, the greatest mens clay court player befoRead More – Source

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