'Pure genius': Rafa Nadal's 'insane' moment in French Open final

Rafael Nadal’s record-extending 12th French Open triumph was highlighted by an incredible shot that’s been labelled ‘insane’ and ‘obscene’.

Up 3-0 in the third set with the match locked at one-set apiece, the King of Clay somehow managed to win a point he had absolutely no right to.

After being drawn towards the net by a short ball from Dominic Thiem, Nadal pulled off an amazing lunging volley that left his opponent gobsmacked.

How did Rafael Nadal pull this off? Image: Tennis Channel/Getty

Nadal hit his volley with so much spin that the ball ballooned over the net and spun back towards him straight into the base of the net.

All Thiem could do was give Nadal a thumbs up as the Spaniard actually apologised for the freakish winner.

Tennis Channel called the shot ‘insane’, while British broadcaster ITV labelled it the shot of the whole tournament.

And it had fans absolutely frothing.

Tennis history

Defying the years and one of the most fierce onslaughts he has ever faced at Roland Garros, Nadal won his 12th French Open crown, leaving Thiem crushed and a packed Parisian stadium shaking their heads in wonder.

The first set had been one for the ages, the second ran it close, but after three hours and one solitary minute on Sunday all that mattered was that Nadal was once again in familiar pose, flat on his back in the clay, a 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 winner to clinch his 18th grand slam triumph in total.

For much of this final, rarely, if ever, has any opponent played so well against Nadal on this Philippe Chatrier centre court.

Rarely, if ever, has the best of the young guns Thiem struck the ball so firmly, or played with such purpose and aggression.

Rafa Nadal celebrates with the trophy. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

But it wasn't enough. Not nearly enough. Not even before Thiem ultimately ran out of steam.

The 33-year-old Nadal, who becomes the first player to win the same grand slam title 12 times, going past Margaret Court's 11 Australian Opens, now sits just two major titles behind his great foe and men's grand slam title record holder, 37-year-old Roger Federer.

"It's incredible. I can't explain the feeling," Nadal told the crowd.

"For me it was a dream to play here in 2005, and I could not imagine I would be back here in 2019. It's a very special moment for me.

"I want to say congratulations to Dominic. I feel sorry ... he deserves it. He has absolute intensity and passion for this sport. I wish him all the best for the future."

with AAP