Nadal celebrates with ball kids in Paris

Dominic Thiem put up more of a fight than anyone has against Nadal in years at Roland Garros but it wasn't anywhere close to enough

Dominic Thiem put up more of a fight than anyone has against Nadal in years at Roland Garros but it wasn't anywhere close to enough

For the record, by the time Nadal won his maiden major at the 2005 French Open, Federer had already built a 4-1 lead.

"It is truly incredible".

While chiefly motivated by his rivalries with Nadal and Djokovic, Federer says his enthusiasm to keep evolving as a player comes from watching the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev and the new challenges they bring. "I feel sorry because he deserves it". I have been able to be very close to win another title there.

Where once Wimbledon was the domain of the big servers and the big hitters, the grass these days is a little slower, allowing players more chance on returns.

"One possibility was to stop for a while and recover my body".

He said: "The first two sets were insane".

The second set turned into a serving fest as both guys cruised in their service games quickly and efficiently. Twelve times the opponents in the finals failed to beat him.

"The first set has been so tough with high intensity and great points".

Tied 1-apiece, Nadal left the court for a bathroom break.

Djokovic demanded to know if there was an "extreme wind" rule before his match with Thiem was suspended for the night. So first of all, I have to get there.

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Former world number one Boris Becker has called on tennis players under the age of 28 to "show up" and start challenging for Grand Slam titles. After Madrid and Barcelona, I was thinking about what I needed to do.

"There has to be a reason why he's that successful".

A few hours after he left the track, the 33-year-old Spaniard told him that he is now just two titles away from Federer's 37-year-old record with time on his side. "Today, I saw why". It was impossible to hold that thing during the whole match. As everybody knows, I love to play on grass. It is also 950th win of his career. But, I mean, it's also understandable, in a sort of way. "If that time comes, I will think about how I'll do even better next year".

Federer managed to outplay Nadal in the winners department although that proved not to be enough, spraying nearly 60 unforced errors and missing a chance to at least force the fifth set and push Rafa to the limits. Thiem the opposite with 31 winners to 38 unforced.

Federer managed to avoid longer rallies in his games but Rafa spoiled his plans after creating the gap in the shortest points up to four strokes, overpowering his rival by a slim margin in the more extended exchanges as well to secure the win. For the rest, I was playing well.

However, the men's semis between Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic taking on Dominic Thiem were to be played on the main, 15,000-seat Court Philippe Chatrier as planned. "I never tried to think about: I gonna catch Roger or not", he said after beating Dominic Thiem.

"I was too negative". Rafa said: "You can not be thinking "one more" all the time, otherwise you are never happy. You can not say it is a dream, because I never dreamed of such a thing". He said, "It's a motivation, but it's not my obsession". It was really awesome, of course, because it was the only choice I had. It's not the way in which I view the sport, and it's not the way in which I consider my sports career.

"Mentally, I wasn't enjoying myself".

Nadal has suffered with knee problems throughout his career and missed Wimbledon in 2009 and 2016. In Nadal's home country Spain, Marca wrote: 'Eternal legend of Roland Garros. Rafa has more titles to win.

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