Playing the king of clay at the French Open is akin to scaling Mont Blanc without any ropes and even an intrepid adventurer from Europe's Alpine heartland found it a peak too steep as Rafael Nadal claimed an 11th title on Sunday.
As Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem warmed up before the French Open final, the booming voice of an announcer at Court Philippe Chatrier called out each player's bona fides.
Nadal remained implacable in the homestretch, intent on ignoring his temporarily impaired hand, outracing the rainclouds that hovered close and low but didn't erupt, and trying to outrun, outhit and outwit a player who was 11 years old when he won his first title here in 2005.
Written off as fading forces two years ago, Nadal, 32, and Roger Federer, approaching 37, have won the last six Grand Slam titles between them.
The 16-time Grand Slam appeared to be coasting in the third, but a break up at 2-1, the Spaniard began to struggle with what appeared to be cramp in his middle finger.
For me, you know, if you tell me seven, eight years ago that I will be here [at] 32 years old having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something nearly impossible, but here we are.
But it ultimately proved a futile mission as, just like in all but two of Nadal's previous 87 matches here, the relentless Spaniard proved insurmountable, winning 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.
Fair enough Thiem was demolished by Nadal in last year's semi-final in Paris but today's seventh seed has added more aggression and self belief to his game. "The watch keep going always", Nadal said.
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"It's not even a dream to win here 11 times, because its impossible to think of something like this". "It's definitely one of the best things somebody ever achieved in sport". "You never know where is the limit", he said. That led to 34 winners (eight more than Nadal), but also 42 unforced errors (18 more than Nadal).
Although Thiem stood tall and broke Nadal early in the opening frame, he fell apart with a chance to knot things at five games apiece and ceded the set to Nadal at love.
It worked. For a bit.
But at 4-5 Thiem's serve let him down badly, handing Nadal three set points.
"It's wonderful now, I can't describe my feelings", a sweat-soaked Nadal told the crowd. A forehand wide. A forehand into the net. A forehand long. Just like that, Nadal was off on a five-game run that put him up 3-0 in the second set.
Nadal celebrated in relatively low key fashion, but then there is not much novelty value in this.
After winning 26 of his 27 matches throughout the European claycourt season and 81 of his last 86 sets on clay, there is nothing to suggest Nadal's domination in Paris will end soon.