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‘There will never be another Nadal’: Plaudits roll in as clay king Rafa seals 12th French Open

‘There will never be another Nadal’: Plaudits roll in as clay king Rafa seals 12th French Open
From Tiger Woods to Sergio Ramos, praise has been pouring in for Spanish clay court king Rafael Nadal as he claimed a record-extending 12th French Open title with victory over Austria’s Dominic Thiem on Sunday.

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. 

READ MORE: Long live the King of Clay! Nadal sees off Thiem to win record-extending 12th French Open title

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.

‘There will never be another Nadal’: Plaudits roll in as clay king Rafa seals 12th French Open

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.

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.”

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.

Such is Nadal’s dominance, some had the temerity to claim that his undisputed reign as the King of Clay was “boring.”

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.

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.

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.