Rafael Nadal was too strong for Dominic Thiem in Sunday's French Open final but in the immediate aftermath the Spaniard backed his beaten opponent to prevail at Roland Garros in future.
The 'King of Clay' lived up to his moniker once again on Court Philippe Chatrier, seeing out a 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory to claim his 11th title on the red dirt in Paris.
Thiem is the only man to have defeated the world number one on the surface over the past two seasons, but another win was never really on the cards once Nadal imposed his will on the encounter.
In the post-match presentation, a triumphant Nadal was typically gracious in victory, predicting that Thiem would soon taste Roland Garros glory.
"Well played to Dominic, he played a great two weeks," Nadal said.
"I'm happy, he's a good friend and one of these players the Tour needs and I'm sure you'll win here in the next couple of years.
"It was the best match of the tournament for me. It was important to do that today because Dominic is a very aggressive player.
"I'm very happy, it was a tough moment in the third set when I got cramp in the hand. I was very scared but that's sport, today is very humid and I was playing against a player that pushes you to the limit.
"It's amazing, I can't describe my feelings, because it's not even a dream to win here for the 11th time because it's impossible to think, so thankyou to everybody, it's fantastic."
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