Rafael Nadal will remain on the French Open throne for yet another year as he claimed his fifth successive Roland Garros title and the ninth in total by overcoming Novak Djokovic in an evenly-contested final at the Court Philippe Chatrier this afternoon. It was the second championship match between the highest-ranked players at the tournament with the current World no. 1 also prevailing in four sets a couple of years ago. The king of clay’s Grand Slam title count now rose to fourteen, whilst he extended the head-to-head lead against Djokovic to 23-19.
The second seed Serb looked confident in the initial set where he created a double break point in the eighth game, but could only convert in the third attempt after the rival’s forehand flew wide of the mark. Serving for the set, Novak kept his nerves and came back from 15-40 to wrap up the opener. The defending champion raised the level of play in the second set to finally grab a break and go 4-2 up, yet he handed Nole a pair of break back points following a double fault in the subsequent game – the Serb accepted the gift to eventually make it 4 all. He needed a hold to force a tie-break at 6-5, but Nadal pounced again and squared things up with an unstoppable forehand winner.
The Spaniard sailed full speed ahead in the beginning of the third set to earn a 3-0 advantage and withstood Djokovic’s pressure later on. A more than ten-minute-long seventh game could have been a turning point in the set as Novak fought hard to generate a break point, but he spurned the chance in the end. He was unable to regroup by the follow-up service game and let Rafa move 2-1 ahead without delay.
Nadal kept pulling most of the strings in the set four and stole the opponent’s serve in the sixth game, yet the Belgrade native caught a lifeline once more by breaking back before making it 4-4. However, the Serb dropped a 30-0 lead two games later and was unfortunate to concede a double fault on the first championship point he had to defend. The Spaniard thus secured another big triumph by winning 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 6-4, whilst Djokovic missed an opportunity to complete a career Grand Slam this Sunday. His 11 (Nadal 3) aces were not enough to edge out the arch-rival who capitalized on all four break points in the last two sets. The 28-year-old from Balearic Islands has a 66-1 record at French Open with the only defeat coming in fourth round in 2009 against Robin Soderling.