Roger Federer defeats Mischa Zverev at Mercedes Cup on comeback appearance

If Thiem is, as he is widely regarded, the second best clay-court player in the world then he probably has a few more of these pummellings to look forward to at least until Nadal, 32, finally calls it a day.

Thiem broke back immediately as he continued to go for his shots, and he saw off a break point to hold for 2-2. "What is in my mind now is that I won a very important title for me", he added. Of those 86 victories, 78 have come when Nadal has won the first set, after which he has never lost a match on Parisian clay. "When someone wins 11 times here, for me it's unbelievable to think about this", said uncle Toni.

Nadal's latest triumph in Paris sees him join Margaret Court, who dominated the Australian Open in the 1960s and 70s, as the only player to win 11 singles titles at one grand slam.

If there were any reason for a bit of intrigue entering Sunday's match, it was this: Thiem beat Nadal in two sets on red clay at Rome in May 2017 and again at Madrid last month.

Roger Federer rallied to beat home favorite Mischa Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 at the Stuttgart Open on Wednesday in his first match in almost three months.

"I will strive to get as far as possible", said Federer, who the No. 1 seed, who got a bye in first round.

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.

It would not only give the Swiss one more shot at the coveted Olympic single's gold, the one major missing medal from his collection, but the timing of the event towards the end of July 2020 is ideal.

Nadal's introduction included a year-by-year accounting of every time he'd already won the title at Roland Garros.

Unlike previous year - when those first few games realistically settled matters - Thiem bounced back, breaking straight away.

The Spaniard was quick to hammer home his advantage at the start of the second, converting his fifth break point of a lengthy game as Thiem's usually trusty backhand let him down. "It was just awful misses".

Thiem dug in - especially in the roughly 13-minute sixth game - but he crumbled attempting to stay in the set, making four unforced errors.

He was heard saying, "I can't move my fingers, sorry" to the match referee before he was attended by the trainer.

Vanessa Coleman