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10 Junio 2019, 11:11 | Cornelio Vivanco
Of them all, this was one of his most satisfying.
"But, being honest, I never tried to think about, 'Well, [am] I going to catch Roger' or not", Nadal said.
His return in the clay court season saw semi-finals losses in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid before a much-needed title triumph in Rome. His tone, perhaps unavoidably, reflected the difference between leading man and understudy. Even Toni doesn't know, although he pointed to his heart and said: "I think it is natural for him", before quoting Picasso's famous line: "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working".
"First thing that I want to say is congrats to Dominic".
Indeed, it was Thiem who nosed ahead first, closing a 12-stroke exchange by ripping a forehand to earn the first break point of the final, then converting it with an overhead to cap a 20-stroke point for a 3-2 edge. "Your neighbour has a nicer house than you. or a bigger TV, or better garden".
"I don't want to point out some reasons or find excuses for this loss", said Djokovic, who had won nine of his past 10 five-setters and was 29-9 overall in such matches.
Thiem had said he would be fine physically, even as he played for a fourth day in a row after being dealt a rough hand by rain, wind and scheduling issues. Despite bringing out his best mixture of attack and defence Thiem still couldn't grab more than a set in the entire match; what hope does he have of ever winning three?
1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6 Handed Federer his first defeat in a Grand Slam final to become the youngest back-to-back Roland Garros winner since Bjorn Borg in 1974-75. Alas for the Austrian fourth seed taking a set off Nadal only unleashed an absolute cyclone of tennis from the Spaniard.
Nadal, whose 2018 earnings is estimated to be $41.4 million by Forbes, has made nearly $107 million in prize money over the course of his tennis career, ATP Tour reported. The French crowd erupted. Nadal dropped just to sets on his way to the title.
That the questions arose at all was significant.
If Thiem had muttered 'plus ca change', he'd have been forgiven. So much effort to claw his way back, so little to show for it now.
It also gave Nadal an 82nd career title and 950th match win.
Few people on the planet can hit a backhand like Thiem, even once. "He really had to push himself to the limit to be back on the court, to practice, to be motivated". He survived break points in his next service game but battled back to hold and broke Thiem again in the sixth game. That development brought fans to their feet in Court Philippe Chatrier, roaring and clapping and, above all, wondering: Was this, now, a real contest?
"Rafa, well done. You are an amazing champion and a legend in our sport".
After his victory, Nadal humbly paid tribute to the vanquished Thiem, consoling the 25-year-old Austrian clay court specialist by saying he would one day be the player standing holding the famous La Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy. Over the next two sets he rushed forward with gusto to shorten the points before Thiem could, winning 85 percent of the points at the net which included some incredible stop volleys that even Thiem had to applaud. Just the numbers are crazy.
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