French Open: Rafael Nadal makes Grand Slam history by winning his 12th Roland Garros title

Rafael Nadal: French Open champion for the 12th time
Rafael Nadal: French Open champion for the 12th time

Rafael Nadal entered the history books once again as he saw off Dominic Thiem to win his 12th French Open title and his 18th Grand Slam crown.

Playing in his 12th final at Roland Garros just 14 years after his first in 2005, the King of Clay improved his match win-loss record here to a staggering 93-2 by triumphing in a repeat of last year's showdown against Dominic Thiem.

Twelve months ago, Nadal thrashed the Austrian for the loss of just 11 games - a year on from dropping seven games in their semi-final here - but this was a tougher test, clinching it 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1.

It means he surpasses Margaret Court's all-time record of most titles at a single Grand Slam in tennis history, with the Australian managing to win her home tournament on 11 occasions from 1960 to 1973. Nadal's tally of 12 at one Grand Slam is also four more than the next male in this particular statistic - Roger Federer's eight Wimbledon crowns.

Nadal, 33, is now just two Grand Slams behind Federer's all-time leading men's mark of 20 and at five years the Swiss legend's junior, he won't be ruling out drawing level at least before the pair retire.

Scroll down for more, including reaction

Nadal said: "The first thing I want to say is congrats to Dominic and sorry because he deserves it too.

"I really hope he will get the chance to win in the future because he has a big passion for the sport and he's a hard worker and I want to encourage him.

"I cannot explain my feelings. For me it was a dream to play here for the first time in 2005. It's truly incredible and very special for me."

Thiem received a huge ovation as he collected his runner-up trophy, and was not too downhearted despite being unable to join Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic as the only men to beat Nadal at Roland Garros.

He said: "It's very tough right now because I gave everything I had these last two weeks. I love this tournament with all my heart.

"Rafa, well done. Of course I'm very sad to lose but you're such an amazing champion, such a legend of our sport. It's amazing 12 times here, it's unreal, and I will try next year again for sure."

There was brutal hitting throughout the 53 minutes it took for Nadal to clinch the first set 6-3.

It was a repeat of last year's final, which Nadal won in straight sets. Thiem made the first move with a break for 3-2 but his advantage was wiped out straight away and four games in a row sealed the set for the Spaniard.

The second set was a reversal of the first, with both men holding serve comfortably.

Thiem was going for more on his serve and was rewarded with a series of relatively straightforward holds.

Nadal did an equally good job of holding his own delivery until he served to stay in the set in the 12th game.

Two unexpected errors from Nadal belied his nerves and some intelligent play from Thiem saw him rewarded with the set, taking it 7-5.

It was only the seventh set Nadal has dropped in French Open finals, and he set about making sure there would not be an eighth here.

A poor opening game of the third set from Thiem set the tone, and the Austrian quickly found himself 4-0 down having won just a single point.

He at least got on the board in the fifth game but another break gave Nadal the set 6-1.

He roused himself again at the start of the third set but was unable to take break point opportunities in either the first or third games and found himself 3-0 down.

He did superbly to recover from 0-40 to hold serve in the next game but that turned out to be a last stand as Nadal pulled away again to win 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 in three hours and one minute before collapsing to the floor.

Routes to the final

Rafael Nadal

  • 1R: bt Yannick Hanfmann 6-2, 6-1, 6-3
  • 2R: bt Yannick Maden 6-2, 6-1, 6-4
  • 3R: bt David Goffin 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
  • 4R: bt Juan Ignacio Londero 6-2, 6-3, 6-3
  • QF: bt Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1, 6-3
  • SF: bt Roger Federer 6-4, 6-3, 6-2

Dominic Thiem

  • 1R: bt Tommy Paul 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2
  • 2R: bt Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 7-5
  • 3R: bt Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5
  • 4R: bt Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4, 6-2
  • QF: bt Karen Khachanov 6-2, 6-4, 6-2
  • SF: bt Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5
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