"I still remember when you won here the first time in 2005". "My preparation, I believe, past year went well".
Only Nadal, Pete Sampras and Ken Rosewall have managed the feat of winning Grand Slam titles in their teens, 20s and 30s.
"I kind of expected Rafa to win the French Open, that's not taking anything away from him, but he was again that good on clay leading into the French Open that I thought he was going to win", he told a news conference. Could he shock the world and defeat Nadal at Roland Garros? Or Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for that matter?
Nadal's uncle, Toni, who used to also be his coach, attended Sunday's match and was asked afterward whether Rafael can pull even with Federer. Thiem climbed to a 1-0 edge, but Nadal fought to hold a 3-1 advantage.
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Outside of Paris, where he also reached the semi-finals in 2016 and 2017, Thiem has not progressed past the fourth round at any of the other three Slams.
Following his French Open win previous year, Nadal looked like setting up another SW19 final with Federer, only to crash out in the fourth round to Luxembourg's Gilles Muller in a five-set thriller.
In a world bustling with ball-maulers yearning to topple euphorically onto Roland Garros clay or merely stand and raise the arms skyward in triumph just once in life, Rafael Nadal did so Sunday for a preposterous 11th time, even while choosing the standing option for only the second.
On the women's side, newly-crowned French Open champion Simona Halep continues to lead the pack.
The number of Grand Slam singles titles now held by Nadal, who is second on the all-time list among men in the Open Era, behind Federer (20), and ahead of Pete Sampras (14), Djokovic and Roy Emerson (12 each).
Thiem was under the cosh, saving four break points in the first game of the third set before Nadal inevitably broke for 2-1.
"It's really just incredible".
"Difficult for me to think about it now", Nadal said, as per Express. The biggest test for him came early in the third set with the onset of cramp in the left thumb.
Wawrinka, who has had to deal with a double knee surgery, has been playing intermittently in the 2018 season as he aims to get back into top gear.