Rafael Nadal was full of praise for Dominic Thiem in the aftermath of his latest French Open win and outlined his belief the Austrian will eventually win the title at Roland Garros.
Thiem has been on the losing end in the past two finals on the clay courts of Paris, running into the immovable object that is Nadal.
The 25-year-old did take a set this time around but Nadal, who claimed a 12th title, dropped just two games in the final two sets as he downed the world No. 4.
After the match, Nadal admitted that he felt sorry for Thiem – who downed world No. 1 in a five-set epic in the semi-finals – and admitted if he was to lose to someone at the French Open in the future, he hopes it’s him.
‘First thing I want to say: Dominic, sorry, you are one of the best examples we have on tour,’ Nadal said after his 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 win in three hours and one minute.
‘You are one of the hardest workers and always with a smile on your face. That’s the most important thing. Thanks for being that great inspiration for me and a lot of small kids around the world.
‘I know how tough it is to lose finals but that’s the sport. If I wanted to lose to someone, it’s with you because you deserve it. Keep going, you will win this for sure.’
Thiem was evidently disappointed but quickly turned his attention to returning to Paris next year, where the ‘Prince of Clay’ will hope to finally topple the king.
‘It’s very tough right now because I gave everything I had,’ he said. ‘I love this tournament with all my heart, I love you people with all my heart, it’s amazing support.
‘Rafa, well done. Of course I’m very sad to lose but you’re such an amazing champion, a legend of our sport. It’s amazing 12 times here, it’s unreal. I will try again next year here for sure.
‘Congrats to your team, you’re all very nice guys. I really like spending time with you on the tour. Well done, bravo.
‘To my team, big thanks. There were so many people coming, friends, family, it means a lot to me. I hope you will be here with me when I hopefully win my title here.
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