© Peter Staples/ATP World Tour

Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his 11th Roland Garros title after beating Dominic Thiem in straight sets on Sunday.

5 Things We Learned From Roland Garros

ATPWorldTour.com takes a look back at what we learned from the clay-court Grand Slam

1) Never Doubt Rafa On Clay
It was tough to know what to expect from Rafael Nadal when he was forced to withdraw from Acapulco due to a right hip injury, subsequently missing the first two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events of 2018 at Indian Wells and Miami. But the World No. 1 dispelled those concerns in major fashion on the red dirt.

Nadal lost just one set on the Parisian terre battue en route to his astonishing 11th Roland Garros title, beating a tough Dominic Thiem in the final. The victory capped a tremendous clay-court season for the 32-year-old, who went 26-1 on the surface, capturing 61 of 66 sets. Not bad for a player whose status was unclear just a few months ago.

"Coming back and having the chance to win in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, and now especially here," Nadal said. "It's very emotional for me."

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2) Thiem Will Be A Threat In Paris For Years To Come
It is easy to look at the score of Sunday’s championship match — a straight-sets victory for Nadal against Thiem — and forget all that the Austrian accomplished.

Thiem has now advanced to at least the semi-finals on the Parisian terre battue in three consecutive years and proven that he will contend for the title for years to come.


“I think it was the first time against him here in Roland Garros where it was a fight. It was a decent match from my side,” said Thiem, who had played Nadal twice previously on Court Philippe-Chatrier. “I'm confident that this was not my last Grand Slam final, and that's my biggest goal, to get into the next one and then to do better than today.” READ FEATURE

3) Zverev Takes Another Step
Alexander Zverev has shown that he is one of the best players on the ATP World Tour, capturing three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in a 12-month span (2017 Rome, 2017 Montreal, 2018 Madrid). But when the German arrived at Roland Garros, he had yet to advance past the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam in 11 attempts.

That changed when the 21-year-old won three consecutive five-setters to reach the quarter-finals, where he fell to eventual finalist Thiem. Zverev became the eighth player in the Open Era to battle through three straight five-setters at Roland Garros, with the most recent being Tommy Robredo in 2013.

“Clay-court season in general has been very positive,” Zverev said. “I lost three matches on the clay, all to great players. And I won two tournaments, made two Masters [1000] finals. So it's all very positive.” READ FEATURE

4) Argentine & Italian Steal The Show
In a fortnight of great stories, an Argentine and Italian shone especially bright. Argentine Marco Trungelliti lost in the final round of qualifying and returned to his residence in Madrid. That was until he found out there was a lucky loser spot available, packed into a car with his brother, mother and 88-year-old grandmother to drive back to Paris. The 28-year-old made the most of the opportunity, stepping on court just hours after arriving in France to defeat Bernard Tomic.

Read: With Racquets & Grandma In Hand, Trungelliti Is Luckiest Loser Of Them All

But he wasn’t the only off-the-radar player to impress. Italian Marco Cecchinato, who was 5-29 in tour-level matches before claiming his maiden ATP World Tour title in April at Budapest, became the first player from his country to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since 1978.

Not bad for a player who had never won a major main draw match before Roland Garros. Cecchinato will now soar to a career-best No.27 in the ATP Rankings after a run that he aptly described after shocking 2016 champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

“It’s a dream for me.”

5) Home, Sweet Home For Herbert/Mahut
There are feel-good stories, and then there is what happened in the doubles final. Five years ago, Nicolas Mahut and Michael Llodra led Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 4/2 in a final-set tie-break with the Roland Garros trophy on the line, but lost the final five points of the match. It was a heartbreaking moment for the Frenchmen.

But Saturday, Mahut got another chance with longtime partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert. And this time, they were victorious. The pair was the third all-French team in the Open Era to triumph at Roland Garros.

"Thanks to Pierre-Hugues, we are here five years after. I'm smiling, and I can tell you there is a real difference between losing in the finals and winning a final," Mahut said. "It's almost indescribable. It's just utter happiness."

And if that wasn't enough, Mahut's son, Natanel, sprinted across the clay to celebrate with his father in a moment nobody involved will soon forget.

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