French Open: Rafael Nadal makes Roland Garros history with seventh title
RAFAEL Nadal wrote his name in the history books with an emotional French Open triumph over Novak Djokovic in Paris yesterday afternoon.
The Spaniard’s 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5 victory, which was completed a day late after being rained off on Sunday night, took him past Bjorn Borg as the first man to win seven French Open titles.
Nadal’s win also meant Djokovic was denied a historic fourth slam title in a row after wins over his rival in London, New York and Australia, leaving Don Budge and Rod Laver as the only men to have accomplished the feat.
The 26-year-old Nadal said: “For me it’s a really emotional day to win another time here. Sure the seventh is important, but the most important thing is to win Roland Garros, whether it’s the first, second, third or seventh.”
Nadal had left the court on Sunday evening very angry that they had continued to play while rain fell, and he admitted coming back yesterday had been a difficult experience.
He said: “It was very hard for me since yesterday. I’ve been playing this match since Friday afternoon. It’s a long time preparing, and then yesterday with all the stops. I really felt nervous. My feeling was I wasn’t ready for the match until three minutes before. That was the first moment since we stopped yesterday that I really felt that I am here to play. I was more nervous than usual because of the situation.
“It was clearly a good thing for me to stop the match yesterday because of the conditions. The last couple of games, the conditions of the court were not right.”
The momentum had been with Djokovic when play was called off on Sunday, Nadal having just stopped a run of eight successive losing games to trail 2-1 in the fourth set.
They resumed at midday yesterday in dry conditions but under grey skies and Nadal immediately retrieved the break of serve, helped by a very fortunate net cord. The Spaniard looked much more composed, his forehand firing again after his struggles in the rain on Sunday and Djokovic could not put any real pressure on his serve.
The world No 1 comfortably held the first time he served to stay in the match but on the second occasion Nadal sensed blood, and Djokovic succumbed, a double fault sealing his fate.
An emotional Nadal sunk into the clay and then climbed into the stands to celebrate with his support team before taking his customary bite of the Coupe des Mousquetaires. Djokovic had struggled for form throughout the fortnight, saving four match points against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals, and he was able to reflect positively that he reached the final at all.
He said: “This has been a strange final with delays and conditions and two days’ length of match. I’m just happy to be playing the final at Roland Garros.
“I could easily have lost the match in fourth round or against Tsonga, but I managed to come to the final for the first time in my career. I should be happy about that, of course.
“Unfortunately there was a rain delay yesterday when I started to feel really good on the court. But I don’t want to find an excuse in that, because the first rain delay maybe helped me a little bit, the second helped him. So that’s the way it goes and the better player won today.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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