He persists at his punishing physicality and pounding shots even 13 long and grinding years after the wonder from the Spanish island of Mallorca debuted at Roland Garros with sleeveless shirts, clam-digger shorts, shoulder-length hair and MMA muscles, and, two days after his 19th birthday, won his first title and said, "I fight every point, every point, no?"
While the French Open quarter-finalist Alexander Zverev maintains his third spot, Juan Martin del Potro, a semi-finalist in Paris, climbed a couple of places to reach the fourth position for the first time since February, 2014.
Despite the loss, the 24-year-old Austrian said it had been a "great two weeks" for him.
When another Thiem forehand dropped long, Nadal's arms were raised in celebration, and soon he was biting the trophy once again in his trademark pose. Of course, I have ambition. It was a final.
"If you told seven or eight years ago that I will be here at 32 years old having this trophy with me again, I will tell you that is something nearly impossible, but here we are", he said. "I don't think about the rankings at all today", Nadal added. "So at the end, it's not the best day".
Just like that, Nadal was off on a five-game burst to lead 3-0 in the second set.
"Let me enjoy this title", Nadal said.
In the women's draw, Halep has eased the pressure on her shoulders after finally winning a first Grand Slam after losing her first three finals.
Presumably they'll be looking to complete a hat-trick of major sporting events by turning up at the World Cup in Russian Federation next, which kicks off on Thursday (14 June).
And entering Sunday, there was at least some reason to believe that Thiem could make things interesting in the final. Nadal saluted his 24-year-old opponent, who is the only man to have beaten the Spaniard on clay over the past two seasons.
Nadal is 50-2 on the surface in that span.
"Thiem beat me in Madrid this year and played with big power". That was part of a five-game run that sent Nadal on his way. A spate of poor play quickly saw him lose the first three games of the set.
Perhaps. But under so much pressure from Nadal all afternoon, Thiem made mistakes that piled up.
A wild, misguided forehand sealed his fate, one of 18 unforced errors to Nadal's 12 in the set.
Maybe nerves were a factor in Thiem's performance.
- Introduced to tennis by another uncle, Toni Nadal, who encouraged his naturally right-handed nephew to play left-handed as it would give him an advantage.
"Last time I did that I came back here very strong and my reaction was very good after losing against Tommy [Haas] past year, I didn't drop another set for the rest of the grass-court season which I was very happy about". "Of course, it's going to be easier then, a little bit, because it's not going to be the first time anymore".