“It’s very tough right now because I gave everything I had these two weeks,” Thiem said. “Rafa well done. Of course I’m very sad to lose but you’re such an amazing champion, such a legend of our sport … I will try again next year for sure.
“So many people coming, friends, family, means a lot to me. I hope that you’ll be here when I maybe win my title here.”
Twelve - and counting
The frightening prospect for Thiem and fellow Grand Slam pretenders is that Nadal’s trophy-hogging journey in Paris may not yet be on the verge of its final stop.
Accepting this as the norm does not diminish the significance of each of Nadal’s 12 title runs at Roland-Garros.
The tournament’s next most prolific champion in the Open Era, Bjorn Borg, only won half Nadal’s haul. Borg’s tally, too, is double the next bunch of clay-court legends.
“Being honest I know how tough it is to lose finals but that’s sport,” Nadal said. “If I wanted to lose to someone it would be to you.”
The gap has closed at Roland-Garros, but the distance remains profound.