Vastavam web: Defying the years and one of the most fierce onslaughts he has ever faced at Roland Garros, Rafa Nadal won his 12th French Open crown on Sunday, leaving Dominic Thiem crushed and a packed Parisian stadium shaking their heads in wonder. The first set had been one for the ages, the second ran it close, but after three hours and one solitary minute all that mattered was that Nadal was once again in familiar pose, flat on his back in the clay, a 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 winner to clinch his 18th Grand Slam triumph in total. For much of this final, rarely, if ever, has any opponent played so well against Nadal on this Philippe Chatrier centre court.
The 33-year-old Nadal, who becomes the first player to win the same Grand Slam title 12 times, going past Margaret Court’s 11 Australian Opens, now sits just two major titles behind his great foe and men’s Grand Slam title record holder, 37-year-old Roger Federer. “It’s incredible. I can’t explain the feeling,” Nadal told the crowd. “For me it was a dream to play here in 2005, and I could not imagine I would be back here in 2019. It’s a very special moment for me.