For the second year running, Federer opted against playing at the French Open to spare his knees, but will be the favorite to win Wimbledon next month and re-establish a four Grand Slam gap over Nadal on the list of all-time collectors of major titles.
World number one Rafael Nadal won an 11th French Open title by beating Austrian Dominic Thiem in straight sets.
Juan Martin del Potro, who was run ragged by the world number one on Court Philippe Chatrier in this year's semi-finals, was right to state that it's nearly impossible to beat Nadal on clay.
Simona Halep of Romania broke through in Paris for her first Grand Slam title.
A clay court specialist who had made the semi-finals at Paris over the last two years, and the final this time around; someone who had beaten Nadal on clay three times in the past, though never in a five-setter. But after, the Spaniard was imperious.
After an intense clay court season in which he also collected an 11th Monte Carlo and Barcelona crown and suffered only one defeat in 27 matches, Nadal will take time out for fishing in his native Mallorca before the grass court swing.
"I played a great match against a great player", said Nadal.
Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. "I happy that other people have things, and I am very satisfied, and I feel very lucky with all the things that happened to me", Nadal added.
On Sunday, Thiem was right out there at Court Philippe Chatrier, too, making his initial appearance in a major final, swapping shots with that very same Nadal.
"There are a lot of things at stake", the Swiss, who enjoys a first round bye, said.
Victory on Sunday moved Nadal to just three Slams behind his great rival Roger Federer who, at 36, is more than four years older.
Nadal was unrelenting against the Thiem serve, earning 17 break points and winning five as the Austrian sprayed 42 unforced errors during the match.
Once he was a set up, Nadal continued the pummel Thiem with his heavy groundstrokes.
Yet Nadal also knows he could be a threat after playing impressively a year ago before falling in the last 16, losing a classic tussle against Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.
If there were any reason for a bit of intrigue entering Sunday's match, it was this: Thiem is the only person to beat Nadal on red clay over the past two seasons, doing so at Rome in May 2017 and at Madrid last month.
Being coach I shouln´t have said it, but being uncle, I thought he would have won.
The score may have looked rather routine but there was some drama in the third set when Nadal called for the trainer at 2-1, 30-0.
Federer has admitted he will have to be at his best to win his first Stuttgart Open title.
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