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ICYMI at French Open: Rafael Nadal continues old-man domination trend on tour

PARIS -- Tennis' old guard just keeps getting better.

Rafael Nadal successfully defended his French Open crown and clinched a record 11th Roland Garros title with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 final victory over No. 7 Dominic Thiem on Sunday.

Following his 32nd birthday last Sunday, Nadal's victory is the seventh successive major title won by a man age 30 or over, currently the longest streak in the Open era.

You'd have to go back to Wimbledon 2016 for the last time a Grand Slam was won by a man under 30 (Andy Murray, 29).

Let's put that into perspective: The previous record for most consecutive majors won at 30 and over came in 1969, when Rod Laver did it by himself, completing the last calendar-year Grand Slam on the men's circuit.

Even crazier, since Stan Wawrinka's 2016 US Open victory, the past six Grand Slam titles have been shared by two players: Nadal and 36-year-old Roger Federer. The dominant duo have now won 37 Grand Slam titles between them (Federer 20, Nadal 17).

Lengthy injuries to close rivals, including Novak Djokovic and Murray, might have played a part, but you cannot deny both Nadal and Federer's supremacy at the big events.

And with Federer's return imminent for the grass swing, will the streak be extended in three weeks' time at Wimbledon? You'd be foolish to bet against it.


Twitter reacts to the King of Clay

Here's what the sporting world had to say about Nadal's 11th Roland Garros title win:


A slight scare

It wasn't all plain-sailing for Nadal in Sunday's final. Midway through the fourth game of the third set, while he was two sets and a break up, Nadal stopped before serving and moved towards the umpire's chair, signalling that he could not move his hand.

The men's champion later explained he had been suffering from cramps in his left finger, apparently not helped by constrictive bandaging to deal with sweating on his left arm.

Following his 11th French Open title win, Rafael Nadal described the left-hand issue he suffered during the third set as “not normal cramping”. The Spaniard walked back to his chair during the fourth game of set three and frantically started ripping off the bandages on his fingers and left forearm. “I needed to go there and to cut it, and to understand what's going on,” he said in press. “It was quick in that moment, and for me was scary, because I felt that I was not able to move the hand, the finger. I was not under control of my finger. When I take the bandage out, things improved.”

Rob Bartlett, ESPN UK Associate Editor68d ago

Mystic Brad ...

Could anyone predict Nadal's dominance at the French Open? Yes, our very own Brad Gilbert.


Waking up a champion

Newly crowned women's champion Simona Halep took time Sunday to pose for photographs with her new best friend.

The world No. 1, who beat Sloane Stephens in Saturday's final, clutched Coupe Suzanne Lenglen tightly and didn't let it out of her sight.

Halep also tweeted this message to her fans, summing up her first 24 hours as a Grand Slam winner.


Celeb watch: Final edition

Court Philippe Chatrier played house to a who's who of the rich and famous during men's final day. Those spotted at Roland Garros included actors Hugh Grant, Woody Harrelson, Hilary Swank, Clive Owen, Tim Roth, Jean Dujardin, musician Roger Waters, and former Real Madrid manager and French international soccer star Zinedine Zidane.


Bottle it up

In Nadal's world, everything has to be perfect before a French Open final -- including how and where you position your drinks bottle.


Cover star

A very cool look at all 10 previous covers of Spanish newspaper Marca the day after each of Nadal's previous 10 French Open titles. Wonder what they will have in store for tomorrow's edition?


Doubles delight

No. 6 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova were victorious in Sunday's women's doubles final on Court Philippe Chatrier. The Czech pair saw off Japan's Makoto Ninomiya and Eri Hozumi 6-3, 6-3 in little over one hour to claim the title.


Demolition job

Following the conclusion of the final day at Roland Garros, the media were invited to "destroy" the current media center housed inside Court Philippe Chatrier.

The media center has been stationed there since 1988 but will be completely redeveloped as part of the structural changes throughout the grounds, due for completion in 2020.


A fitting tribute

In the preamble to the men's final, the French Tennis Federation held a special tribute to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Roland Garros -- the World War I pilot and aviator who gave his name to the Paris grounds.

A flame was lit early Sunday morning at the Arc de Triomphe and walked to Court Philippe Chatrier by young members of both the Air Force and graduates from the French Tennis Stadium.

The ceremony, held on court, culminated with a flyover by the Patrouille de France and a tricolor smoke ribbon released over the grounds.


And finally ...

We'll leave you with this ... that's 11 titles for Nadal in Paris. He'll need new teeth soon, at this rate. Until next year, au revoir, Roland Garros!