Wins record fifth successive title; draws level with Sampras on 14 Majors

Rafael Nadal held off another challenge from great rival Novak Djokovic to claim a record-extending ninth French Open title with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 victory on Sunday. The World No. 1 from Spain became the first man to win five successive titles at Roland Garros to take his overall Grand Slam tally to 14 — three short of Roger Federer’s record.

Djokovic, who was looking to become the eighth man to complete a career slam, made a great start but appeared to suffer from the heat and humidity after losing the second set.

The 28-year-old Nadal, who has only lost one of his 67 matches on the Paris clay, fell on his knees when Djokovic double-faulted on the first match point.

It was Djokovic’s sixth attempt against Nadal in his spiritual home, and his sixth failure — the second in a final after the 2012 showdown.

Range trouble

The 27-year-old Serb, who became the first person to win the opening set of a Roland Garros final against Nadal since 2006, went 40-15 up on Nadal’s serve in the eighth game as the Spaniard had trouble finding his range.

Nadal saved the two break points with a forehand winner down the line and a big first serve, but misfired on the third. He had two break points in the ninth, but fluffed a forehand on the first and sent another long on the second as Djokovic held to take the first set when Nadal failed to return a booming forehand.

Nadal set up a break point in the sixth game of the second set and thought he had won it with a backhand, only for umpire Pascal Maria to overrule the linesman and award the point to Djokovic.

The Spaniard had another chance and there was no contest this time as Djokovic returned Nadal’s forehand into the net, but the Serb broke straight back when his opponent’s forehand sailed long.

Djokovic saved another break point in the eighth game, but the momentum had shifted Nadal’s way and the man from Mallorca took the set on the World No. 2’s serve with a forehand winner.

He broke in the second game of the third set when Djokovic, who looked exhausted, netted a regulation volley.

At the following change of ends, the Serb almost fell off his chair! Djokovic continued to fight, but Nadal was always on top, wrapping up the set on Djokovic’s serve.

It was a long backhand that gave Nadal a seemingly decisive break for 4-2 in the fourth set, but a rejuvenated Djokovic broke straight back before a final lapse in concentration handed Nadal the title.

The results (finals): Men’s singles: 1-Rafael Nadal (Esp) bt 2-Novak Djokovic (Srb) 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4.

Women’s doubles: 1-Su-Wei Hsieh & Peng Shuai (Tpe/Chn x1) bt 2-Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci (Ita) 6-4, 6-1. — Reuters

  • Nadal won his first four titles from 2005-2008 and the next five from 2010-2014

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