"I think it was the first time against him here in Roland Garros where it was a fight", said Thiem, who told Nadal he remembered being 11 years old and watching the Spaniard win his first title in 2005.
This was Nadal's 11th win at the French Open, also known as Roland Garros.
Thus, the task ahead of 24-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem-competing in his first-ever Grand Slam final-seemed impossible.
Nadal has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles, three short of Roger Federer, the tennis yin to his yang, who has won a record 20.
He has now taken his total Grand Slam win to an impressive 17, edging closer to Roger Federer's 23.
Sharapova had a similar story, working her way past Richel Hogenkamp and Donna Vekic before finding her feet against Karolina Pliskova with a 6-2 6-1 victory.
The 2018 French Open came to an end on Sunday, and while the men's side of things provided no surprises whatsoever, the women's event culminated in the crowning of a first-time Grand Slam champion. He caused a sensation in Rome a year ago by handing the Spaniard the first defeat of his clay season.
And he increased the tempo further, consigning Thiem to defeat in his first major final when the Austrian sent a return long.
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In a world bustling with ball-maulers yearning to topple euphorically onto Roland Garros clay or merely stand and raise the arms skyward in triumph just once in life, Rafael Nadal did so Sunday for a preposterous 11th time, even while choosing the standing option for only the second.
Thiem lost to Nadal in the second round on his Roland Garros debut in 2014, then again in last year's semi-finals.
As he showed in Monday's (NZT) final, Nadal remains indestructible, even when cramp turns his racket hand into an agonising claw.
Thiem, competing in his first major final, was second best in the next set as he was edged out in a gruelling second game for the only break of serve. The two players were going for heavy, lung-busting shots. This season no other player, not even the undisputed King of Clay, can count as many match wins on the red dirt as Thiem.
In his entire career on clay, Nadal has a 415-36 record, giving him a winning percentage of 92.0 - the best of any player on any surface in men's tennis history. With the score at eight-all, Pavic unfortunately double-faulted to hand the championship point to his opponents, which Dodig took full advantage of to serve out the set.
Perhaps. But under so much pressure from Nadal all afternoon, Thiem made mistakes that piled up. "I don't know", Toni Nadal said.
Nadal has won six of his nine matches against Thiem, all of them coming on that famously hard red clay.