History man Rafael Nadal sweeps to 12th French Open and 18th Grand Slam title

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after his final match against Austria's Dominic Thiem. (Reuters)
Updated 09 June 2019

History man Rafael Nadal sweeps to 12th French Open and 18th Grand Slam title

  • Sunday’s triumph confirmed the ‘Big Three’ stranglehold on the Grand Slams
  • Nadal is now just two behind Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20 Slams

PARIS: Rafael Nadal swept to a historic 12th Roland Garros title and 18th Grand Slam crown on Sunday with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Austria’s Dominic Thiem.
The 33-year-old Spaniard becomes the first player, man or woman, to win the same Slam 12 times after seeing off a brave challenge from a weary Thiem in a repeat of the 2018 final.
Nadal is now just two behind Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20 majors and three ahead of Novak Djokovic who was knocked out by Thiem in the semifinals.
The world number two also took his Paris record to an astonishing 93 wins and just two losses having previously won the title in 2005-2008, 2010-2014, 2017 and 2018.
Sunday’s triumph confirmed the ‘Big Three’ stranglehold on the Grand Slams having shared the last 10 between them.
It also gave Nadal an 82nd career title and 950th match win.
In a 53-minute first set of brutal hitting and raw physicality, it was Thiem who broke first for a 3-2 lead.
But the 25-year-old’s joy was short-lived as Nadal retrieved the break in the sixth game before racing away with the next three games to pocket the opener.
Thiem, who had beaten his opponent four times on clay in his career, failed to claim a single point off Nadal’s first five service games of the second set.
However, the dogged Austrian pushed and pushed, forced Nadal into three rushed groundstrokes and, from nowhere, broke to take the second set.
It was the first set he had managed to take off Nadal at Roland Garros after three previous defeats.
Nadal was riled by the insult.
He swept the first 10 points of the third set, carving out a double break for 3-0 before sweeping to a third break for the set.
Thiem, bidding to become just Austria’s second Grand Slam champion after Thomas Muster won in Paris in 1995, had played four successive days to reach Sunday’s final and the toll was slowly telling.
He wasted break points in the first and third games of the fourth set and Nadal pounced to stretch to 3-0.
That was soon 5-1 and the relentless barrage continued with Nadal taking the title on a second match point when Thiem fired a return long.


England cricket players donate, take pay cuts amid COVID-19 crisis

Updated 05 April 2020

England cricket players donate, take pay cuts amid COVID-19 crisis

  • The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has said the season will not start before May 28
  • ECB’s centrally contracted women players to take a salary reduction for the months of April, May and June

LONDON: England’s centrally contracted male cricketers will donate £500,000 ($613,000) to the Board and charities while their women’s team counterparts have volunteered a three-month pay cut amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the players’ association (PCA) said.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has said the season will not start before May 28 and speculation has been mounting over how their leading players would respond to the situation.

“Following a meeting today of all of the England men’s centrally contracted cricketers, the players have agreed to make an initial donation of £0.5 million to the ECB and to selected good causes ...” the Professional Cricketers’ Association said in a statement.

“This contribution is the equivalent of all of the England centrally contracted players taking a 20 percent reduction in their monthly retainers for the next three months.

“The players will continue to discuss with the ECB the challenging situation faced by the game and society as a whole and will consider how best to support the ECB and both the cricketing and wider community going forward.”

The ECB’s centrally contracted women players have volunteered to take a salary reduction for the months of April, May and June in line with their coaches and support staff.

England women’s captain Heather Knight said: “All the players felt like it was the right response in the current climate to take a pay cut in line with what our support staff are taking.

“We know how the current situation is affecting the game and we want to help as much as we can.

“We will be discussing with the ECB further ways we can help the game in the coming weeks,” added Knight, who has signed up with the National Health Service (NHS) as a volunteer.

The ECB has announced a 61 million pounds aid package to help the local game withstand the financial impact of the pandemic.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler is currently auctioning the shirt he wore in England’s 2019 World Cup final victory to raise funds for efforts to fight the coronavirus.