Rafael Nadal might just be invincible on the clay courts at Roland Garros after all.
The 28-year-old Spaniard dropped the first set to Novak Djokovic on Sunday afternoon in Paris, but he rallied to take the next three, securing a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 victory in the French Open final, his fifth consecutive French Open Championship and ninth overall.
The victory is Nadal’s 14th career major title, and it once again denies Djokovic a chance to complete the Grand Slam.
It was an extremely emotional day for both players.
Nadal, usually with an extra bounce in his step at the French Open, played the match with a sense of determination. belying the gravity of the situation. His run in Paris has been unprecedented, and he seemed well aware that he had a determined foe opposite him who was desperate to finally crack through in the tournament that has eluded him.
Djokovic has won three of the four major championships, but like many others before him, he’s continued to be befuddled by the clay courts of Roland Garros. He’s proven to be one of the few players over the years to give Nadal any trouble at the French Open, dropping an epic five-set semifinal to him in last year’s tournament.
The match began as well as you could hope for the 27-year-old Serbian. He broke Nadal in the first set and took the early advantage. Djokovic had a chance to put the defending champion in a two-set hole in the second, but the Spaniard rallied to even the match.
The third set was all Nadal, and with the fourth set on serve, Djokovic double faulted trailing 30-40 on his last service game of the match, handing Nadal the match and the championship.
It was an absolutely devastating end for Djokovic, who appeared on the verge of tears during the trophy presentation, another chance to crack Nadal and achieve tennis immortality, squandered.