"I think it was the first time against him here in Roland Garros where it was a fight", said Thiem, who told Nadal he remembered being 11 years old and watching the Spaniard win his first title in 2005.
After the victory - which saw Nadal claim his 17th Grand Slam title in total, just three behind Roger Federer's all-time record of 20 - social media was quick to laud the 32-year-old's staggering achievement.
Following his French Open win a year ago, Nadal looked like setting up another SW19 final with Federer, only to crash out in the fourth round to Luxembourg's Gilles Muller in a five-set thriller.
Thiem, now 24 and ranked a career-high No. 7 following his first major final, said he enjoyed seeing Nadal thundering away from the comfort of his childhood couch far more than trying to field the lightning bolts coming at him across the net Sunday. But after, the Spaniard was imperious. In the fourth game of the third set, he had the physio attend to his left hand because a finger cramp was making it hard for him to grip the racquet.
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.
Playing Nadal at the French Open is possibly the biggest challenge in the game now, and if Thiem had to win at it he had to be flawless.
The lone player to defeat Nadal on clay over the last two seasons, Thiem made incremental progress by winning nine games Sunday, two more than in each of their previous meetings here.
Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News.
Nadal did not play for more than two months after the Australian Open in January - where he withdrew from his quarter-final against Marin Cilic because of a hip injury.
London has not been a hospitable venue for the world No. 1 in recent years, featuring exits to the likes of Lukas Rosol, Steve Darcis and most recently Gilles Muller, when the Luxembourger beat him in last year's fourth round.
According to Perrotta, Nadal has lost two Richard Mille watches that were stolen (one was later recovered) and almost lost a third when a fellow player found one in a locker room.
That was about as disheartening as it got for the world number one. You can't live with that feeling, no? His only loss on the surface this year had come to Thiem in Madrid.
"But I never have been insane about all this kind of stuff".
He is now entered to play the Queen's Club tournament next week.