Rafael Nadal won his seventh French Open title on Monday after defeating great rival Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5. A double fault from Djokovic handing Nadal his record-breaking win in 3 hours and 50 minutes of play, over two days.
With his triumph, Nadal overtook Bjorn Borg's six French Open victories to become the most successful clay court player of all time. Still only 26, Nadal will fancy his chances of adding more Roland Garros titles to his collection.
Nadal started the match strongly on Sunday, winning the first two sets with relative ease. Clearly frustrated as his chances of holding all four grand slam trophies looked to be fading into the dust, Djokovic threw his racket multiple times and displayed increasingly negative body language. However, the anticipated rain began to fell forcing the first suspension of play.
Clearly benefiting from the break, when the action resumed, Djokovic played with more energy and enthusiasm. In the third set, the World No. 1 bumped his first serve percentage up to 75 percent, compared with a paltry 48 and 50 percent in the first and second set, respectively. Another key factor to the turnaround was his reduced unforced error count as Djokovic began playing more solidly form the back of the court.
As the rain continued, Nadal began having trouble sliding into his shots with the red clay turning increasingly into mud. And Djokovic appeared right back in the match as he took the third set 6-2.
Djokovic's run continued into the fourth set as he secured an early break to take a 2-1 lead. With Nadal clearly rattled, the rain picked up enough to force play to be suspended until Monday. From Nadal's point of view the call to halt proceedings came far too late as he lambasted the umpire's decision to continue for so long in the falling rain.
When play resumed, in the dry conditions on Monday, Nadal quickly took advantage as he slid and moved around the court more comfortably.
The Spaniard wasting no time in breaking serve immediately to tie the set at 2-2 after Djokovic missed an easy forehand into the net.
Nadal continued to move well and retrieve Djokovic's penetrating shots with incredible athleticism. He held serve to lead 3-2 and put pressure on Djokovic once again. While the rain continued, both players held serve until Djokovic served to stay in the contest for a second time at 5-6.
Djokovic struggled with unforced errors throughout the contest, hitting 53 compared to Nadal's frugal 29. Crucially for Djokovic the unforced errors came at vital points in the match, helping Nadal to get the upper hand in the fourth set.
With a tiebreaker looming, Nadal began playing more aggressively. He stepped into the court and moved Djokovic around from sideline to sideline. After hitting a huge forehand winner, Nadal reached match point. At 30-40, Djokovic coughed up another error with a double-fault that handed Rafael Nadal yet another title at Roland Garros.
Nadal fell to his knees, looking more emotional than perhaps after any of his many previous victories. After making his customary climb into the stands to embrace his family and support team, Nadal held aloft the Coupe des Mosquetaires, the trophy with which he has become synonymous since bursting onto the tour as a muscular, long-haired teenager.
With one piece of history already in the bag, having claimed his 11th Grand Slam title, Nadal may well now be setting his sights on Roger Federer's record of 16 Slam titles.
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