Nadal tops Djokovic for seventh French championship|
Paris, France (Sports Network) - For a record seventh time, Rafael Nadal has
claimed the French Open title.
Nadal also won it for a third successive year and his seven championships at
Roland Garros set an Open Era record to break a mark he shared with the great
Bjorn Borg, but on Monday the Spaniard finally defeated an opponent that had
become a Grand Slam nemesis.
Nadal earned a 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 victory over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a
final that started Sunday but was completed a day later because of rain.
"Having this trophy with me is unforgettable," Nadal said during the trophy
presentation after the match. "It's one of the most special moments in my
Nadal also claimed his 11th career Grand Slam crown. It might have been more
if not for Djokovic's recent domination in the majors.
The Serbian star had won the last three Grand Slam titles, all coming at
Nadal's expense in those finals. He was trying to become the first man to hold
all four major championships at the same time since Rod Laver won a natural
Grand Slam in 1969.
But the French Open has been Nadal's second home. The Mallorcan has lost just
once on the famed red clay and Djokovic was appearing in the final of the
Parisian slam for the first time.
However, after a blistering start for Nadal on Sunday, the tide appeared to
turn in Djokovic's favor as heavier rain began to fall in the third set.
Djokovic won eight straight games after falling behind by two sets and a
break. He was up a break in the fourth set and dominating Nadal, who appeared
to be flustered by the worsening court conditions as well as his own subpar
play. The weather eventually halted play for the day after Nadal finally
snapped Djokovic's run with a hold of serve.
Down 2-1 in the fourth set when play resumed Monday, Nadal appeared to regain
He broke Djokovic to start Monday's action and soon after a light rain once
again began to fall. Play was stopped, but only for a few moments, with Nadal
The sun made an appearance and play remained on serve until the final game
when Djokovic committed a double-fault on match point.
It was Djokovic's fourth double-fault of the match and three came at critical
times. In addition to the final point, he double-faulted once in each of the
first two sets to give Nadal breaks of serve.
Nadal also double-faulted four times, but none were at important junctures. He
committed just 29 unforced errors, while Djokovic had 53. Most of those
mistakes came early, when it appeared as though Nadal would just steamroll
another opponent in his favorite venue.
A pair of breaks gave Nadal a quick 3-0 lead Sunday and he was ahead 40-15 in
the fourth game. Djokovic quickly regrouped and won the next four points to
steal the game and momentum. He followed by winning the next two games to
square it, but a double-fault in the following game gave Nadal another break
for a 4-3 lead.
After each player held serve, Nadal sealed the opening set in the 10th game. A
lengthy rally ended with a brilliant Nadal drop shot to produce a pair of set
points at 40-15, but he needed only one as a blistering cross-court winner
Another Djokovic double-fault gave Nadal the first game of the second set, but
the Serb broke back in the fourth game with a perfect lob. Nadal, though,
broke again with a forehand winner for a 4-3 lead, and he held serve in the
next game before rain stopped play for the first time.
After the delay of just over a half-hour, Nadal came out and broke serve to
win the set. Djokovic saved one set point with a service winner, but Nadal
ripped a backhand winner to finish it.
Nadal held to start the third set and broke for a 2-0 lead. The super Spaniard
had yet to lose a set during the tournament and another straight-set thumping
began to appear on the horizon.
Things then changed dramatically, as Djokovic found another gear. He won the
next six games to capture the set and did so in rather easy fashion with three
breaks of serve.
Djokovic's stunning turnaround continued early in the fourth set with a light
rain continuing to fall. He broke Nadal to start, then held at love. Nadal
began complaining about the wet balls, even going so far as to gently throw
one past the chair umpire.
After Nadal finally stopped the Djokovic eight-game streak with a hold of
serve, play was again halted because of the weather.
More than an hour passed before officials decided to call play for the day.
Monday's finish marked the first time the French Open didn't end on a Sunday
since 1973, when Ilie Nastase beat Nikki Pilic. That men's final ended on
Djokovic had won 27 straight Grand Slam matches entering the final and was
bidding for his sixth major title. He fell to 5-3 all-time in Grand Slam
finals and dropped to 30-17 in title matches altogether, including a 2-3 mark
It was the fourth matchup between Nadal and Djokovic in a final this year.
Djokovic prevailed at the Australian Open in a five-set thriller, but Nadal
has won the other three.
In addition to Monday's victory, Nadal also beat Djokovic for the titles in
clay-court Masters events in Monte Carlo and Rome. He is 19-14 all-time
against Djokovic, including 6-3 in Grand Slam play.
The former No. 1 Nadal improved to an astounding 52-1 lifetime at Roland
Garros, with his lone loss coming while playing hurt in the 2009 fourth round
against Robin Soderling -- a defeat he avenged in the 2010 final.
Monday's victory also gave Nadal his 50th career title. He is 50-21 all-time
in finals, including 4-1 this year. Aside from his four finals against
Djokovic, Nadal also captured the clay title in Barcelona.
It's now onto the grass courts for the next month, as Nadal begins
preparations for Wimbledon. He is scheduled to play this week at the tuneup in
Nadal's first-place check is worth more than $1.5 million.
06/11 09:27:44 ET