‘There will never be another Nadal’: Plaudits roll in as clay king Rafa seals 12th French Open
Nadal, 33, fought off initial resistance from the spirited Thiem to clinch the match 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 on Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland-Garros.
It moved Nadal to 18 Grand Slam titles overall, just two shy of the overall record of 20 held by 37-year-old Swiss legend Roger Federer.
Most Grand Slam 🏆🏆 (men)— Live Tennis (@livetennis) June 9, 2019
Roger Federer 2️⃣0️⃣
Rafael Nadal 1️⃣8️⃣
Novak Djokovic 1️⃣5️⃣
Pete Sampras 1️⃣4️⃣
Roy Emerson 1️⃣2️⃣
Rod Laver/Bjorn Borg 1️⃣1️⃣ pic.twitter.com/uO6LAt1XyT
Nadal’s stats at the French Open make barely-believable reading, with his career record now standing at 93 wins and just two losses, winning all 12 finals he has contested.
Nadal's title on Sunday also means he is the outright leader in the men’s and women’s game in terms of total number of titles at a Grand Slam tournament, moving ahead of Margaret Court’s tally of 11 Australian Open triumphs.
Most men's tennis singles titles won, by major:— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) June 9, 2019
French: Nadal (12)
Wimbledon: Federer (8)
Australian: Djokovic (7)
U.S.: Tilden, Sears and Larned (7 each)
On women's side, Margaret Court won 11 Australians; Navratilova 9 Wimbledons, Evert 7 French titles, Mallory 7 U.S. Opens.
After Nadal’s victory, the plaudits poured in for the Spaniard from figures in the world of tennis, with all-time women's great Billie Jean King saying “there will never be another Nadal.”
There will never be another Nadal. Congratulations to @RafaelNadal on an incredible 12th French Open win. A genius on clay, with a tremendous work ethic, he’s a role model both on and off the court. Well done! #RG19https://t.co/sAmolnGuUW— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) June 9, 2019
Fellow professionals, past and present, also chimed in with praise, with some such as Australian two-time Grand Slam winner Lleyton Hewitt saying it was difficult to process what Nadal had achieved.
The credit flowed in from beyond tennis, as Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos – a friend of football-mad Nadal’s – also tweeted his congratulations.
Others to join in were golfing great Tiger Woods, who himself knows a thing or two about what it takes to win the biggest prizes in sport.
The King of Clay does not like to share his wealth. Congrats @RafaelNadal on #12!— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) June 9, 2019
Such is Nadal’s dominance, some had the temerity to claim that his undisputed reign as the King of Clay was “boring.”
Watching Nadal playing in the French Open is like watching Australia in The 2003, 2007 world cups. Result is almost guaranteed. Such is the dominance that it becomes boring.— Rehan Ulhaq (@Rehan_ulhaq) June 9, 2019
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.
Nadal to Thiem. ‘You are an example for me and for young kids. You will win here for sure’— José Morgado (@josemorgado) June 9, 2019
Indeed, if any seems best placed to dethrone Nadal, it’s Thiem – although Nadal’s win extended the dominance of the ‘Big Three’ of the Spaniard, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in recent years.
Nadal, Djokovic & Federer have won 52 of the last 60 grand slam titles.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 9, 2019
All eyes will now turn to the grass courts and Wimbledon at the start of July. While Nadal will be out of his clay court element, the charge to Federer’s record Grand Slam haul is well and truly on.