Paris — If Benjamin Franklin were alive, he would have to amend his belief that death and taxes are life’s only certainties and add a third — Rafael Nadal winning the French Open.
The Spaniard secured an 11th title at Roland Garros on Sunday with a 6-4 6-3 6-2 demolition of Dominic Thiem.
He now has 86 match wins on Paris’s famous crushed red brick against just two defeats in 13 years.
Juan Martin del Potro, who was run ragged by the world No1 in the semifinals, was right to state that it is almost impossible to beat Nadal on clay.
The 32-year-old world No1 now has 17 Grand Slam titles, just three behind great rival Roger Federer.
In a nervy moment, Nadal needed treatment in the fourth game of the third set for a finger injury before sealing victory on a fifth match point when Thiem fired a backhand long.
"It’s really incredible. I played a great match against a great player," Nadal said.
"I had a tough moment in the third set with cramps in my hand. I was very scared but that’s sport — it was very humid.
"To win 11 times here — it’s fantastic and not something I ever dreamed of."
Nadal joins Australia’s Margaret Court as the only player to win 11 titles at the same Major.
Victory also took Nadal’s record at Roland Garros to 86 wins and just two losses.
For Thiem, playing in his first Slam final, it was a tremendous letdown, being the only man to have beaten the Spaniard on clay in the last two years.
Nadal flew out of the blocks.
He reeled off the first six points for a 2-0 lead before Thiem settled and repaired the damage for 2-2.
The Austrian speared a 222km/h ace just for good measure in the fourth game to save a break point.
He saved another two in the 11-minute sixth game.
Despite matching Nadal forehand for forehand, Thiem was undone in the 10th game when three errors handed Nadal the opening set after 52 minutes. A wild, misguided forehand sealed his fate, one of 18 unforced errors to Nadal’s 12 in the set.
In their previous nine meetings, all on clay, the man who took the opening set went on to win the match.
That scenario loomed again with Nadal going to 2-0 in the second set on a fifth break point as Thiem fired another backhand wide.
Thiem wasted a break point in the seventh game as Nadal collected a time violation for taking too long to serve. Nadal saved it and went on to secure a two sets lead when yet another backhand from the Austrian drifted wide.
Thiem saved four break points in the first game of the third set before Nadal inevitably broke for 2-1.
Nadal halted play in the fourth game complaining of pain in his left hand. He won the game before summoning the doctor and trainer courtside.
A love game took him to 4-2 before he sealed victory.