Rafael Nadal had seen off the rest of the field to stand on the brink of an 11th French Open title – so he was not going to let a badly cramping arm stop him.
The Spaniard admitted he was “scared” when, in the third set of a one-sided final against Dominic Thiem, he had to stop mid-game and call for the trainer.
Thankfully for Nadal – less so for Thiem – he was able to finish the job and continue his remarkable domination at Roland Garros with a 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory.
He said: “I had to be very aggressive, he’s a very difficult opponent.
“I had a tough moment in the third set when I had a bit of cramp. I was a little bit scared. But that is sport. It was very humid and he pushed me to the limit.
“I’m very happy to win the tournament. Dominic is a good friend, but I played my best match in the final.”
Nadal’s incredible record in Paris now reads 86 wins and two defeats. He has won every final he has reached, and in those 11 showpieces he has dropped just six sets.
The 32-year-old is now level with Margaret Court for the record of the most titles at a single grand slam, while his total of 17 overall brings him closer to Roger Federer’s 20. He is also assured of keeping his number one ranking for good measure.
An already daunting task for Thiem, the Austrian seventh seed, got even harder when Nadal broke him in his first service game.
Thiem managed to break back, but it was the only blow he landed all afternoon.
Nevertheless, at 24 he will have other chances, although maybe not until Nadal finally calls it quits.
Thiem did at least remind Nadal of his age, saying; “I can still remember being 11 when (Nadal) won here for the first time and I watched on the TV.
“So I never expected one day I would play the final, so I’m really happy. I loved the tournament. I hope that soon I will get a chance.”