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.
Nadal trounced the rival by a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory before the triumph reduced him to victory at the Roland Garros stadium.
Earlier, Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya's hopes of becoming the first all-Japanese pair to win a Grand Slam women's doubles title were swamped by a barrage of big hitting from Czech pair Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the final.
The 21-year-old made the quarter-finals of a Slam for the first time having arrived at Roland Garros with titles in Munich and Madrid and a runners-up spot to Nadal in Rome. But after, the Spaniard was imperious.
Up a break at 2-1 in the third set, Nadal stopped serving after a fault because he couldn't straighten his left middle finger.
There was late anxiety for Nadal as the predicted thunderstorms loomed and he needed his left forearm massaged after beginning to suffer from cramp.
Rafael Nadal continued his record-extending 11th championship at Roland Garros.
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Yesterday's result marks the sixth consecutive grand slam won by Nadal or 20-time major champion Roger Federer.
The signs were already ominous for Thiem because in 112 best-of-five-set matches, Nadal had never lost after taking the first set.
Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. He was playing very well I think. The only losses came against Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals in 2015.
Still, Nadal was able to complete the job on court Philippe-Chatrier. I am enjoying that moment.
This victory takes his total Grand Slam tally to 17, three behind Roger Federer's. He wound up with 42 unforced errors to Nadal's 24. Nadal cruised to a 3-0 lead in the second set and didn't look back.
Over the best-of-five sets on clay, Nadal improved to 111-2 - it is a figure nearly as imposing as the nearby Eiffel Tower - his lone reverses coming against Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015 at the French Open. As the players engaged in intense, long-drawn rallies, and only six games of the opening set were over after 40 minutes, there was a feeling that something had to give. However, here previous year in the semi-finals, Nadal destroyed Thiem, losing just seven games in a rout, but it is worth mentioning that Thiem triumphed in their last meeting in Madrid last month, in the quarter-finals. The victory moves Nadal to 86-2 at the clay court slam.
Nadal threw his arms skywards and turned to his entourage including coach and fellow Mallorcan Carlos Moya and his uncle Toni, who stood down from his coaching role past year after his nephew worn his 10th French crown.