What makes Nadal the undisputed 'King of Clay'?

Nadal Federer fight'the watch' keep winning Slams

What makes Nadal the undisputed 'King of Clay'?

"So I will take it, I will embrace it and I will enjoy it". After serving a fault, Nadal took the unusual step of heading to the sideline in the middle of a game.

Rafael Nadal looks borderline unbeatable at the moment.

"I have doubts every day but that's good as it makes me work hard with more intensity", said Nadal last year when he captured his 10th French Open, a year after his latest battle with a wrist injury forced him to withdraw from the tournament after two rounds. "But in the end, it was not too hard".

"Obviously I'd like to have 20 titles like him - or more - but that's not in my head right now, and 17 is an incredible number".

The Spaniard won the clay-court Grand Slam for the 11th time at Roland Garros on Sunday - beating Dominic Thiem 6-4 6-3 6-2 in the final. He now has 11 French Open titles, the most ever for a men's or women's player.

That's it. There is the history of the King of Clay's losses at the French Open. Between the pair, the two all-time greats have now won the last six Slams. That was part of a five-game run that sent Nadal on his way.

Thiem dug in - especially in the roughly 13-minute sixth game - but he crumbled attempting to stay in the set, making four unforced errors.

It worked. For a bit.

Nadal leaped out to a 2-0 lead before Thiem battled back with a break of his own to level the score at 2-2. A volley into the net.

That was swatted away with Nadal's double-handed backhand, though, and the second set duly went the way of the favourite.

By then, Nadal was finding his spots.

It made no difference, however, Nadal could probably win this with one hand tied behind his back.

At least Thiem has in the past found the key to unravelling the Nadal clay court enigma.

In fact the only thing to trouble Nadal unduly was a tightening up of his arm midway through the third set.

Thiem, mixing heavy top-spin and flat groundstrokes and angling balls across the sidelines, saved a break point at 1-2 and two more at 2-3 and there were signs that Nadal was struggling with his timing as he framed several forehands. "I was not [in] control of my finger". But as Nadal's uncle, Toni Nadal, said shortly afterwards, "this is not normal".

Certainly, Nadal played a role. At the following changeover, Nadal was given a salt pill by a doctor and had his left forearm massaged by a trainer.

Thiem's best results also have come on clay.

Shortly after, he'd be holding the silver trophy, the one he knows so well, and crying. This, though, is Nadal's court, the place he has dominated like no other.

He got to hoist the Coupe de Mousquetaires for the eleventh time, after having won his eleventh titles earlier this season in both Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

The crowd responded at the mention of 2005, initially offering polite applause.

The No. 7-seeded Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria, was appearing in a major final for the first time.

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