Rafael Nadal kept his iron grip on the Coupe des Mousquetaires by beating Dominic Thiem in four sets to win a 12th French Open title.
It was a repeat of last year’s final and, although Thiem managed to win a set this time, he was unable to join Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic as the only men to beat Nadal at Roland Garros, going down 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1.
Nadal now stands on his own as the most successful singles player, male or female, at a single grand slam having moved clear of the 11 titles won by Margaret Court at the Australian Open.
His 18th slam title overall, meanwhile, means for the first time he has closed to within two of his great rival Roger Federer, whose all-time men’s record of 20 titles appears increasingly within reach for either Nadal or Djokovic.
Thiem was trying to do what only Stan Wawrinka has managed by beating Djokovic and Nadal at the same slam, and Wawrinka did not do it back-to-back.
As if he did not have the odds against him enough already, the Austrian was also playing for the fourth day in a row after his epic two-day semi-final win over Djokovic, while Nadal had had a day off either side of a comfortable semi-final win over Roger Federer.
Thiem knows how it feels to beat Nadal on clay having done so in each of the last four seasons, but only in best-of-three-set matches.
The first seven games were a physical war, both men growling and pummelling the ball back across the net with ever increasing vigour.