The world No 8 on his fierce campaigning streak, how he was shaped by apartheid – and tennis’s long road to equality
“I try not to get too political,” Kevin Anderson says as he winds down at the end of a rainy day at the National Tennis Centre. “But coming from South Africa, where apartheid was a huge problem and there was lots of inequality, has shaped me in terms of how I view certain issues. You need people to speak up.”
Anderson, who will continue his comeback at Queen’s Club this week after missing the French Open with an elbow injury, comes alive when discussing matters away from the court. The world No 8 loves what he does for a living but it does not define him. Although Anderson has fond memories of his run at Wimbledon last year when he reached the final after beating Roger Federer from two sets down in the last eight and taking six hours and 36 minutes to overcome John Isner in the second-longest match in grand slam history, he knows there is a world outside tennis.
Andy Murray says he is playing ‘pain-free’ and is hoping to compete in singles tennis at some stage this year. The three-time Grand Slam champion, who underwent hip surgery in January, added that he doesn’t want to put a timeframe on when his return to singles would be
None of the last 13 Wimbledon winners were under 1.7m
Barty believes her power belies her 1.66m height
Ashleigh Barty insists her diminutive size shouldn’t be a barrier to winning Wimbledon and believes she boasts the power game needed to claim the greatest prize in tennis.
Barty ended Australia’s eight-year wait for major when she won the French Open on Saturday. She will now head into the grass-court season in career-best form having won 31 matches – more than any other player on the WTA Tour – this year. The new world No.2 was too hot to handle for Marketa Vondrousova in the Roland Garros decider with her power belying her 1.66 metre frame.
Rafael Nadal collects the trophy from Rod Laver. He’s used to all this now. It’s the 12th time he’s been up on that stage and as he listens to the Spanish national anthem blaring round Court Philippe-Chatrier, perhaps he’s contemplating just how he’s planning to chase down Roger Federer’s record of 20 grand slam titles. He’s only two behind now and will head to Wimbledon determined to make more history. That’s all from me now. The 2019 French Open is over. Thanks for all your company over the last two weeks. Next stop: SW19. See you then.
Ten straight major titles have now been won by Nadal, Djokovic and Federer. #Goating
It goes down as a great tournament for Dominic Thiem. There’s no shame in going down to Rafael Nadal here – and who knows, perhaps Thiem would have managed to prolong the contest if he hadn’t been playing for the fourth day in a row. The schedule really didn’t help him out. But beating Novak Djokovic was one hell of an achievement. If he can find a way of avoiding Nadal you feel he’s bound to win this tournament one day.
Rafael Nadal speaks! “The first thing I want to say is congrats to Dominic. I feel sorry because he deserves it here too and I hope he wins here in the future. He is a very hard worker. I want to wish him all the best for the future. It is incredible. I can’t explain what I have achieved and how I feel. It was a dream to play here for the first time in 2005. I never thought in 2019 I’d still be here. It’s an incredible moment and very special for me.”
Here’s a quick match report. We’ll have more from our man in Paris, Kevin Mitchell, later.
Victory means Rafael Nadal stands out as the most dominant singles player at any grand slam event. He’s broken Margaret Court’s 11 Australian Open titles. More importantly he’s two behind Roger Federer’s overall haul of 20 majors. Would you bet against him chasing down the Swiss veteran now?
Serving for the championship, Nadal begins with an ace for 15-0. Then Thiem sends a backhand return wide, making it 30-0. At 30-15 Thiem hooks a backhand wide, handing Nadal two championship points. Nadal spurns the first, knocking a backhand long. No matter. He takes the second when Thiem sends a forehand return just wide. Nadal sinks to the dirt, covering his back in red clay, and pretends he can’t believe he’s won his 12th French Open title. He sobs for a moment. Who’s he kidding?
Fourth set: Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 5-1 Thiem* (*denotes server): The game goes to deuce and Thiem’s frustration rises. Soon Nadal has a break point. Somehow Thiem saves it, stretching low to meet a volley that clips the top of the net and lands dead on Nadal’s side. Yet Nadal earns another chance when Thiem nets a slice and he breaks when the Austrian spanks a forehand wide. Nadal will serve for a 12th French Open title.
Fourth set: Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 3-1 Thiem* (*denotes server): Thiem flaps a tired forehand into the net to make it 0-40. The energy has been sucked out the arena. Nadal is utterly rampant. Brilliantly, though, Thiem scrubs out all three break points. You have to admire his character. Somehow he holds, earning deserved acclaim from the crowd.
Fourth set: Nadal* 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 3-0 Thiem (*denotes server): Thiem is still fighting hard, a forehand winner making it 30-all, spraying a backhand past Nadal for a break point. Yet a sliced return fails to clear the net. Deuce. Thiem keeps pressing with his forehand and earns another chance. Nadal saves it with a good serve. He holds.
Fourth set: Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 2-0 Thiem* (*denotes server): It’s not looking good for Thiem when he falls into a 0-30 deficit. He raises his spirits with an 87mph forehand for 15-30. Yet Nadal earns two break points and Thiem sends a forehand wide.
Fourth set: Nadal* 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 1-0 Thiem (*denotes server): Thiem has to start this set better than he did in the third, when he looked completely out of juice after the effort it required to level the match. Perhaps it’s a good thing that set flew by so quickly. At least he hasn’t wasted any energy on it. Yet Nadal looks utterly furious with Thiem for winning the impertinence of winning that second set. He quickly stomps into a 30-0 lead here. But hang on. Thiem, still defiant, somehow fights back to win the next three points and earn a break point. Nadal responds by bashing a forehand down the into the open court for deuce. He crunches to a hold, quashing the Thiem resistance.
The first two points are shared. But Thiem has looked drained ever since winning the second set. At 30-all Nadal pummels a forehand past him for a set point, which he duly converts with more irresistible tennis.
Third set: Nadal* 6-3, 5-7, 5-1 Thiem (*denotes server): Nadal is good on clay.
Third set: Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 4-1 Thiem* (*denotes server): Thiem finally gets on the board, holding to love, but this set is surely done.
Third set: Nadal* 6-3, 5-7, 4-0 Thiem (*denotes server): Thiem gives Nadal a thumbs up after a ridiculous volley from the Spaniard. The ball bounced back towards the net after landing on Thiem’s side. Nadal holds to love. Thiem’s won one point in this set.
Third set: Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 3-0 Thiem* (*denotes server): Nadal starts the game by reading a Thiem drop shot and spitting a slice down the line for 0-15. Then Thiem nets a forehand for 0-30. This is mildly concerning. Thiem smacks another forehand into the net and Nadal has three break points. He can’t take the first, but he does take the second, reading a Thiem forehand and slapping one of his own down the line to seal the double break.
Third set: Nadal* 6-3, 5-7, 2-0 Thiem (*denotes server): Looking to consolidate the break, Nadal skips into a 40-0 lead. He holds with a cracking volley. Thiem hasn’t won a point in this set yet.
Third set: Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 1-0 Thiem* (*denotes server): Nadal is back after a quick comfort break, allowing Thiem to get the third set of this increasingly fascinating fight underway. Worryingly for the Austrian, Nadal has that look in his eye. He’s all over Thiem here, drawing poor errors, quickly carving out three set points. Nadal only needs one, Thiem knocking a forehand long. “It’s a measure of Nadal’s dominance of this event that when he drops just one set in a final, it’s gobsmacking,” Gregory Phillips says.
Dominic Thiem wins the second set 7-5 over Nadal.
Thiem is now the ONLY man currently under 30 years old to have won a set in a Grand Slam singles final.#RG19
Serving to stay in the set again, Nadal finds himself under pressure at 15-all. Moments later he sends a forehand long to make it 15-30, leaving Thiem two points from levelling the match. The tension builds, rising to an unbearable intensity when Nadal loops a forehand wide, gifting Thiem two set points. Presented with a wonderful opportunity, Thiem stands up to Nadal and forces the Spaniard to send a backhand long! It’s the first time he’s taken a set off Nadal at Roland Garros. What an effort from Thiem. Let’s face it, we were all waiting for the moment when Nadal took a two-set lead, but now we have a proper contest on our hands.
Second set: Nadal 6-3, 5-6 Thiem* (*denotes server): Thiem continues to serve with exceptional accuracy, an ace making it 40-0. He holds to love.
Second set: Nadal* 6-3, 5-5 Thiem (*denotes server): Thiem’s furious with himself after netting a forehand on the first point. Then Nadal serve-volleys for 30-0. He’s comfortable. He holds to love with a crisp forehand.
Second set: Nadal 6-3, 4-5 Thiem* (*denotes server): A beautiful whipped backhand from Thiem makes it 15-0. At 30-0 he draws Nadal in with a drop shot; Nadal nets an odd backhand to make it 40-0. He holds to love and Nadal will serve to keep the set alive. I’ll level with you, I didn’t see Thiem managing to survive this long.
Second set: Nadal* 6-3, 4-4 Thiem (*denotes server): Nadal nets a forehand to make it 0-15. He needs to be careful here. Unsurprisingly he wins the next three points. Thiem knocks a forehand long and Nadal holds to love.
Second set: Nadal 6-3, 3-4 Thiem* (*denotes server): Thiem, who hasn’t had a rest since Wednesday because of all the rain delays, crushes a forehand into the left corner for 15-0. It’s amazing he hasn’t completely wilted already. Another comfortable hold keeps him ticking over.
Second set: Nadal* 6-3, 3-3 Thiem (*denotes server): Nadal motors into a 30-0 lead. There’s quite a drab atmosphere on Philippe-Chatrier now, as though the crowd are waiting for Nadal to break. They’re just here for the trophy ceremony. We all are. Nadal holds to love.
Second set: Nadal 6-3, 2-3 Thiem* (*denotes server): The first two points are shared. Thiem is still serving strongly. He wins the next two points easily enough and holds to 15. We’re in what we’ll call a lull at the moment.
Second set: Nadal* 6-3, 2-2 Thiem (*denotes server): Nadal holds to love.
Second set: Nadal 6-3, 1-2 Thiem* (*denotes server): Thiem’s starting to blow hard, but he holds to 30 with a big forehand winner. He clenches his fist – and perhaps he silently gives thanks to Nadal for butchering a gimme of an overhead at 0-15.
Second set: Nadal* 6-3, 1-1 Thiem (*denotes server): Nadal holds to love. It’s going to be like this until the end. Good first set, though.
Second set: Nadal 6-3, 0-1 Thiem* (*denotes server): Thiem is playing at a level that would beat 99.9% of opponents today. Unfortunately it’s Nadal on the other side of the net. So, y’know. Still, he starts the second set with a comfortable hold, polishing it off to love.
Serving for the set, Nadal loses the first point with a shoddy shot. He wins the next two, though, and soon has two set points. Thiem sends a backhand wide and that should be that. Thiem’s coach is slumped over the hoardings in the stands. He looks devastated. He knows. Nadal has never lost at the French Open after winning the first set.
First set: Nadal 5-3 Thiem* (*denotes server): Thiem’s level drops a little and he loops a backhand long. Nadal senses an opening and at 15-30 he earns two break points with a stupendous backhand drop shot. Thiem cracks. He spanks a drive forehand volley straight at Nadal, who forces an errant volley with a powerful backhand. Nadal will serve for the set.
First set: Nadal* 4-3 Thiem (*denotes server): Thiem shrugs off the disappointment of the previous game and gets straight back down to business, lashing a forehand down the line for 0-15. Then Nadal misses a forehand for 15-30. He’s missing a few, which isn’t like him. At 30-all Nadal knocks a backhand wide. It’s another break point for Thiem, but he nets a backhand return. This game is far from done, though. Just when Nadal reckons he’s going to hold, Thiem surprises him with a feathery drop shot. Then Thiem lobs him. Nadal sprints back and swipes at fresh air like a clown. It’s a moment to make us all feel better about ourselves – look, he’s human! Yet Thiem can’t take advantage. He admonishes himself after missing a forehand down the line by a whisker. That was so close. It would have been a winner. Eventually Nadal holds with a backhand down the line. We’ve been going for 44 minutes. Whoever loses this first set (Thiem) will be hurting a lot.
First set: Nadal 3-3 Thiem* (*denotes server): Thiem has to hold here. He has to consolidate the break. But Nadal’s on the offensive straight away, taking control of the first rally. Thiem makes it work for it with more incredible defence way behind the baseline, but Nadal makes it 0-15 with a smash. These are brutal rallies – and Nadal is asking for more time between the points. He isn’t happy with the umpire for rushing them. But he’s more content after watching a couple of Thiem forehands sail well off target. Three break points. Everyone settles down as a sense of normality returns. Thiem saves the first break point with a pinpoint forehand, but Nadal converts the second with a forehand winner from left to right. That didn’t last long.
First set: Nadal* 2-3 Thiem (*denotes server): Nadal has made quite a few unforced errors. Thiem is defending pretty well. The question is whether the Austrian will still be running as hard in an hour or two. For now, however, he’s competing and his stubborn defence helps him get back to 30-all from 30-0, Nadal missing a couple of forehands. Then he earns the first break point of the final with an enormous forehand (only after failing to kill the rally with a few volleys that were somehow repelled by Nadal). A tense, punishing rally ensues. It’s hard to tell which way it will go – until Thiem takes control with another brutal forehand into the left corner. Nadal hooks it back but Thiem’s waiting to break with a smash!
First set: Nadal 2-2 Thiem* (*denotes server): Thiem skips into a 40-15 lead easily enough. He’s defending well – and he helps himself to another hold when Nadal misses an easy forehand.
First set: Nadal* 2-1 Thiem (*denotes server): Nadal sends a razor sharp forehand down the line for 15-0. Soon it’s 40-0. But Thiem isn’t done yet. He gets it back to 40-15 and then he makes it 40-30 with a vicious, snorting backhand that’s too hot for Nadal to handle. Thiem’s in this now and he clambers to deuce after another fine rally. Nadal’s under a little bit of pressure, but he holds with an ace. This has been a good start from both players and I’m very excited to see how Nadal breaks at 5-4.
First set: Nadal 1-1 Thiem* (*denotes server): The good news is it isn’t as blustery as it has been over the last couple of days. It’s stiller for this one. It should help Thiem a bit. After losing the first point here, he pummels his way to 30-15. Then he dries a spinning backhand drop shot, a ploy that worked well against Djokovic. But Nadal is there. He dabs it back over the net and then he’s in position to meet a Thiem backhand with a gorgeous volley for 30-all. Yet Thiem doesn’t look too edgy or fatigued. He capitalises on a couple of Nadal errors to hold to 30.
First set: Nadal* 1-0 Thiem (*denotes server): With the sun shining on Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal begins the 2019 men’s singles final. He’s in a luminous yellow t-shirt. Thiem’s in bright blue. Fashion chat out the way, let’s talk tennis. Nadal opens with a venomous forehand for 15-0. It feels like a sign of things to come, but Thiem hits back on the next point. Before the next point, however, we’re delayed by a screaming child in the crowd. Awkward. Most people chuckle and applaud as father and child make a sheepish exit, but Nadal just frowns. We resume and the game moves to 30-all. A tense rally follows and it ends with Thiem flashing a backhand wide. Nadal holds.
Tok! Tok! Tok! They’re knocking up.
Rafael Nadal is 0 for 14 when trying to close within two Grand Slam titles of Roger Federer’s male record. Today he can finally do it in his 15th try.
14W 4R 15AO QF 15FO QF 15W 2R 15USO 3R 16AO 1R 16FO 3R 16USO 4R 17AO F 17W 4R 18AO QF 18W SF 18USO SF 19AO F 19FO ?
The players have arrived on court. They’re both likely to be feeling a few nerves, but Rafael Nada’s will be nothing compared to Dominic Thiem’s.
It’s been said before but it is remarkable that Dominic Thiem is the only active male player under the age 0f 28 to have reached a grand slam singles final. The other young guns need to pull their finger out, even if this is the toughest era in the history of the men’s game. For now there’s little sign of anyone challenging the dominance of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, a power trio still going strong in their 30s. We really could do with your Tsitsipases and Zverevs and Thiems and Tiafoes and Auger-Aliassimes to step up.
Rafael Nadal leads 8-4 in the head-to-head with Dominic Thiem. Thiem has four wins over Nadal on clay, but he’s lost to him four times at grand slams – three times at Roland Garros and once at the US Open.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Rafael Nadal’s 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 win over Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros. If you’re busy then feel free to return in a couple of hours for the trophy ceremony.
Ok, it’s not the greatest of sells to a French Open, I’ll give you that. In fact I can hear people from our marketing department charging towards my desk right now. But come on, you have to admit it’s hard not to think this is how it’s going to play out. Thiem is a cracking player, especially on clay. A week after having to make way for Serena Williams in the main press conference room, the Austrian demonstrated his prowess on this surface by reaching his second successive final with an epic win over Novak Djokovic. It was an epic performance from the world No4, who has a justifiable claim to being the second best player around in this surface, and the second time he has sent Djokovic on his way in Paris in the last three years. Hats off to the Austrian; nobody can argue he would not be a worthy champion if he manages to pull off the unthinkable here.
Wins at Wimbledon and the US Open will see him equal Rod Laver’s feat
An emotional Dylan Alcott reached out to his fans via Twitter to thank them for their support as he became the first Quad Wheelchair Champion at the French Open.
That feeling when you win your first ever FRENCH OPEN BABY!!! An honour to be the first ever Roland Garros Quad Wheelchair Champion … As always thank you to everyone for the love xxxxx #rolandgarrospic.twitter.com/RwUnVtLYHM