Nadal beats Thiem to win 12th French Open title

SportsAssociated Press

Spain's Rafael Nadal clenches his fist after scoring a point against Austria's Dominic Thiem during the men's final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Sunday, June 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal pulled away in what had suddenly become a tight final to beat Dominic Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 Sunday for his record-extending 12th French Open championship.

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It raises Nadal's Grand Slam title count to 18, within two of Roger Federer's record for a man.

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The 33-year-old Spaniard improved to 93-2 at Roland Garros, including a combined 24-0 in semifinals and finals.

This was a rematch of last year's final, which Nadal won in straight sets against Thiem, a 25-year-old Austrian who beat No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals and was seeking his first major trophy.

Thiem made it seem as if this one could be much more difficult for Nadal, taking the second set to make it one set apiece.

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But the No. 2-seeded Nadal reasserted himself there to grab control. He won 16 of the initial 17 points in the third set en route to collecting 12 of the last 14 games.

No other man or woman has won as many as 12 titles at any of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

When it ended, Nadal dropped to his back on the clay he loves so much, then covered his face with both hands.