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French Open tennis: Rafael Nadal cruises to 11th Garros title

14 June, 2018, 16:31 | Author: Heidi Alvarez
  • French Open tennis: Rafael Nadal cruises to 11th Garros title

So the big question is, can Thiem upset Nadal or will the King of Clay rule on his dirt?

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.

Nadal and Federer have won the past six Grand Slam tournaments between them. After guzzling water during that break, Nadal felt better and was back to playing his unmistakable brand of almost unbeatable clay-court tennis. "For me every tournament is important and I feel that if I don't treat every tournament with 100 per cent focus I will not be ready for the Grand Slams", explains Halep. "I was very scared but that's sport". His only loss on the surface this year had come to Thiem in Madrid. He lost in the semifinals in the last two years and has been the second best clay-court player in the world during that time.

However, the exchange - with over £1.2 million traded on the match already - has Nadal as a [1.26] favourite, which is around a 6% difference in implied odds percentage and certainly enough to be actionable value.

The Spanish maestro brushed Dominic Thiem aside with a convincing 6-3 6-4 6-2 triumph and extended his dominance over the clay courts. Nadal's level immediately cooled off a little, though, and Thiem worked his way back into the set as he broke back in the following service game.

The first set had taken 57 minutes, in stiflingly humid conditions, but there was to be no let-up for the underdog in the second.

Rafael Nadal is into yet another French Open final.

Up a break at 2-1 in the third set, Nadal stopped serving after a fault because he couldn't straighten his left middle finger.

Why? Nadal was 95-0 when capturing the opener on clay in the best of five format.

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Thiem saved a first breakpoint in that game but couldn't save the second, hitting a forehand wide.

Seemingly cruising to victory, that's when Nadal called for the trainer.

Thiem undid all his good work in the next game, netting an easy volley on the first point and gifting Nadal three more unforced errors to hand over the first set.

"I think it was the first time against him here in Roland Garros where it was a fight", Thiem said.

Thiem stayed with Nadal in the early going on a cloudy and steamy afternoon; the temperature was 77 degrees (24 Celsius), the humidity approached 70 percent.

He still occasionally inconvenienced the reigning champion, not least when a deft drop shot brought up a point to break back at 2-4.

Yet Nadal also knows he could be a threat after playing impressively previous year before falling in the last 16, losing a classic tussle against Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.

Halep could have been forgiven if she had made a decision to give up on her Grand Slam dream throughout this painful process.

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