King of Clay: Nadal Beats Djokovic to Claim His Ninth French Open Title

Top seed Rafael Nadal came back from losing the opening set to retaining his French Open title against Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

Djokovic, aiming for his first win against the Spaniard in five meetings at the Roland Garros, won the first set but went on to lose the contest 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 on the Court Philippe Chatrier.

It is Nadal’s 14th Grand Slam title; the Marjocan is now tied with Pete Sampras on second, three shy of Roger Federer’s record of Major title wins. He is also the first to win five successive French Open titles (2010-14) and the only man to have won nine titles in any one of the Grand Slams.

Nadal Kisses The Coupe des Mosquertier, After Beating Djokovic to a Ninth Roland Garros Title.
Nadal Kisses The Coupe des Mosquertier, After Beating Djokovic to a Ninth Roland Garros Title.

The victory stretches his win-loss run at the championship to 66-1 in the last ten years, and 90-1 in best-of-five-set matches on clay.

“Thank you to everybody who works here to make this the best tournament in the world,” said Nadal, 28. “I’d also like to thank the fans, it’s incredible to play here and your support is unforgettable.

“Many thanks and I hope to see you next year.”

The win means the nine-time champions has now extended his lead in head-to-heads against the Serbian to 23-19 and will remain number one ahead of Djokovic.

Nadal Poses With His Ninth French Open Title.
Nadal Poses With His Ninth French Open Title.

“It’s always a pleasure to play against you Novak and congratulations for all the things you are doing, all the best to you and your team,” he added.

“I am sure you will win here one day.”

It is the third year in a row Nadal has halted Djokovic’s efforts towards winning a career Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic’s nine break points against ruthless Nadal’s 10 failed to hand him the Coupe des Mousquetaires in a thrilling contest which lasted for three hours and 31 minutes.

Djokovic said: “It was a very emotional day and I gave everything. Thanks to the fans for all the passion and emotion they have shown throughout the tournament. The trophy was a bit too far out of reach this year but I will come back again and again until I win it.”

The champ’s forehand let him down in the opening set, in which he hit just 6 winners to his opponent’s 11 and recorded five errors.

Nadal dominated early play in the second set with temperature already at 27C and the second seed having asked for iced towels at the break, he broke for 4-2 but a few lethargic forehands saw the Spaniard hand back the advantage.

The 27-year-old Serb failed to close out the set with a tie break in sight, as a double fault and a forehand error allowed Nadal smack a forehand winner to level the contest 1-apiece.

Nadal broke twice and held at love in the third game on his way to the set.

Another poor volley and a wild backhand into the tramlines saw Djokovic fall 4-2 down in the fourth, but Nadal, who appeared to be feeling uncomfortable allowed his opponent to break back.

A terrific backhand pass helped Nadal to match point and Djokovic, despite raising his game, serving with a renewed punch was disappointed to have fired his second serve long to hand Nadal victory.

“For me it’s amazing and emotional, I lost the final at Australia this year where I had a problem with my back and that was a hard moment,” continued Nadal. “Today tennis has given me back what happened in Australia. Playing at Roland Garros is unforgettable, I want to thank everyone here.

“In matches like this every moment is crucial. all the points are so hard. Playing against Novak is always a big challenge for me. Every time I have a chance with him it’s because I played to my limit.”