Playing the king of clay at the French Open is akin to scaling Mont Blanc without any ropes and even an intrepid adventurer from Europe's Alpine heartland found it a peak too steep as Rafael Nadal claimed an 11th title on Sunday.
Austria's Dominic Thiem strained every sinew trying to cling on to the 32-year-old Spaniard and at times even gained a precarious foothold in his first Grand Slam final.
But it ultimately proved a futile mission as, just like in all but two of Nadal's previous 87 matches here, the incredible Spaniard proved invincible, winning 6-4 6-3 6-2.
In claiming a 17th Grand Slam title, Nadal matched Margaret Court's record of 11 titles at a single major — hers all coming at the Australian Open. There is nothing to suggest Nadal's domination on the Parisian dirt will end any time soon.
Thiem, who was trying to become only the second Austrian Grand Slam champion after Tomas Muster's 1995 Paris triumph, played his part in the two hours 42-minute tussle but was unable to sustain the high-octane tennis needed to ruffle Nadal.
"What you did and what you are doing is the most outstanding thing an athlete can achieve in sport," the 24-year-old said.
"Congratulations. It is amazing. Bravo. To me, it's been still great two weeks."
After Nadal's historic victory, sporting stars from Carolina Marin to Sachin Tendulkar took to Twitter to heap praise on the Spaniard. Take a look at some of the best Twitter reactions to Nadal's unprecedented achievement.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 10, 2018
Again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. ⠀ A historic 11 majors on clay, and counting. @RafaelNadal #nike #justdoit pic.twitter.com/EgdPZ5k1kD — Nike (@Nike) June 10, 2018
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) June 10, 2018
The hard work and dedication it takes to win even one 🏆 is enormous. But to win 11 on clay at the same Arena is Legendary. Congratulations Amigo @RafaelNadal #RG18 #FrenchOpen pic.twitter.com/uY27Kcbksu — Leander Paes (@Leander) June 10, 2018
— James Blake (@JRBlake) June 10, 2018
— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) June 10, 2018
Dinastía en tierra batida, leyenda del tenis, héroe del deporte: @RafaelNadal Tennis legend and hero: #RafaelNadal#RolandGarros #VamosRafa pic.twitter.com/IgvhRDt9Qg — Sergio Ramos (@SergioRamos) June 10, 2018
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) June 10, 2018
— Jonas Bjorkman (@BjorkmanTennis) June 10, 2018
— Juan Monaco (@picomonaco) June 10, 2018
Nadal's celebration after the win was restrained — throwing his arms skywards and turning to his entourage including coach and fellow Mallorcan Carlos Moya and his uncle Toni who stood down last year after his nephew Nadal reached La Decima.
There was no disguising what it still means to him, though, as the tears welled up after being handed the Coupe des Mousquetaires from Australian great Ken Rosewall.
"It's amazing now, I can't describe my feelings," a sweat-soaked Nadal told the crowd.
"It's not even a dream to win here 11 times, because it's impossible to think of something like this."
With inputs from Reuters
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Updated Date: Jun 10, 2018 23:55:45 IST