Rafael Nadal beats Novak Djokovic for his record 7th French Open title | Tennis
Rafael Nadal of Spain won a rain-delayed French Open men's final Monday, powering past top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5. Nadal has won a record seven French Open titles.
Los Angeles Times
PARIS — Only one man could answer history's summons to the court at Roland Garros on Monday, and his name had been engraved on the winner's trophy six times already.
For the seventh, a feat no male player before him had achieved, Rafael Nadal roared back from a break of serve down in the fourth set to win a rain-delayed French Open men's final, powering past top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.
Fittingly, the sun finally broke through the clouds as the Spaniard closed in on victory, which came when Djokovic double-faulted on match point after the two had been back on court for less than an hour.
Nadal, the defending champion, demonstrated — though ranked behind Djokovic at No. 2 — he remains the world's best tennis player on clay, at present and arguably of all time.
The victory lifted Nadal above the record of six French titles he shared with Swedish legend Bjorn Borg and thwarted Djokovic's attempt to make history by becoming the first man in 43 years to win four Grand Slam tournaments in a row.
Nadal, 26, boasts a staggering 52-1 record on the rust-colored clay at Roland Garros. The only year in eight successive appearances he failed to take home the glittering Coupe des Mousquetaires was 2009.
Monday's triumph increased Nadal's overall Grand Slam-title count to 11, the most of any active male player after Swiss great Roger Federer, who has a record 16.
"I feel very lucky to achieve all what I have achieved," Nadal said. "For me (it) is a really emotional day."
The two-day match, played over Sunday and Monday, was the fourth consecutive Grand Slam final featuring the same two men, itself a record.
But where Djokovic triumphed in the previous three — including a grueling victory at the Australian Open in January, the longest major men's final ever — Nadal's experience and supremacy on Parisian clay was not to be ignored. The slower surface allows him to retrieve nearly every ball, sliding into perfect position to send it back with possibly the most vicious topspin the game has seen.
The match was essentially a battle for territory, a duel to see who could claim the most ground. Both men struck deep, penetrating shots, but whichever player was able to press forward and choke off angles, pushing the other man farther and farther behind the baseline, usually won the point.
Attesting to the consistency that is the bedrock of his game, Nadal committed far fewer errors than Djokovic, 29 to 53.
Unable to find a rhythm, Djokovic lost the first two sets Sunday and flung his racket onto the court in disgust and later thwacked it against his bench, sending shards of an advertising placard flying.
Djokovic came from down 2-0 to take the third set.
As he led the fourth set 2-1, up a break of serve, tournament officials decided to suspend the match temporarily because of rain and later canceled play for the rest of the evening, pushing the men's final past Sunday for the first time since 1973.
Djokovic, 25, called the decision "unfortunate" but declined to criticize tournament officials. Nadal acknowledged the halt in play helped him.
At the end of the match, Nadal knelt as if in prayer.
"You don't know if this year is going to be the last one," he said. "I achieved it this year, but as time goes by, you give more value to those very precious moments."
|Men with the most French Open tennis titles, with most recent in parentheses:|
|Rafael Nadal (2012)||7|
|Bjorn Borg (1981)||6|
|Henri Cochet (1932)||4|
|Gustavo Kuerten (2001)||3|
|Ivan Lendl (1987)||3|
|Mats Wilander (1988)||3|
|Rene Lacoste (1929)||3|