Dominic Thiem described Rafael Nadal's French Open reign as one of the greatest achievements in sporting history after going down 6-4 6-3 6-2 in Sunday's final.
Experiencing his maiden grand slam decider, Thiem was soundly beaten by the relentless Spaniard, who overcame cramp in his left arm in the third set to seal an 11th title in Paris.
Thiem was powerless to stop the 'King of Clay', who paid tribute to his opponent in the post-match presentation and predicted the Austrian would one day be standing in his position with the Coupe des Mousquetaires.
In response, Thiem was similarly effusive in his praise of the world number one.
"What you're doing is one of the most outstanding things an athlete has ever achieved in sport. Congrats - it's amazing," Thiem said to Nadal.
"It's still been a great two weeks. I remember when you won here the first time in 2005, I was 11 years old watching on the TV and honestly I never expected that one day I would play the final here so I'm really happy.
"Thank you to all of you. I love the tournament in general, I lost the final in the juniors and lost today and soon I hope to get another chance - maybe even against you [Nadal], it would be a dream.
"I can make one more promise...the next time I'm hopefully here at the ceremony I will do it in French!"
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