Serbian tennis ace Novak Djokovic captured a first ever French Open title on Sunday after trumping Britain’s Andy Murray in the grand finale and also thus becoming just the third man in history to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.
The world number one downed Murray 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to claim a 12th career major and joined Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) as the only players to simultaneously possess the French Open, Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon trophies.
Djokovic, 29, also put himself halfway to the calendar Grand Slam, last achieved by Laver 47 years ago.
But the Serb did it the hard way as the final reached a tense conclusion, as after being broken in the eighth game of the fourth set he served for the title. Djokovic also squandered two championship points in the 10th before sealing victory when Murray netted a backhand.
“When I broke him the second time and I got to 5-2 in the fourth, I just started laughing. I had that kind of emotion. I didn’t feel too much pressure, honestly. Maybe I took things a bit too lightly and just played a loose game at 5-2,” said Djokovic, one of only eight men to complete the career Grand Slam.
“In the last point I don’t even remember what happened. It was really one of those things — moments where you just try to be there. It’s like my spirit has left my body and I was just observing my body fight the last three, four exchanges going left to right and hoping that Andy will make a mistake, which happened.
Djokovic, who will now target the first calendar Grand Slam, since Laver achieved that feat 47 years ago, was overjoyed with his Paris breakthrough after losing his three previous finals.
“It’s a very special moment, the biggest of my career. I felt today something that I never felt before at Roland Garros, I felt the love of the crowd.
Djokovic imitated former three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten by drawing a giant heart in the Paris clay before collapsing inside it.
“I drew the heart on the court, like Guga who gave me permission to do. My heart will always be with you on this court,” said Djokovic.
Playing in his 20th final at the majors and sixth in succession, the Serb superstar is the first man since Jim Courier in 1992 to win the Australian and French Opens back-to-back.
Victory also allowed Djokovic to stretch his winning record over the 29-year-old Murray to 24-10 overall and 8-2 in Grand Slams.
Murray, the world number two and the first of his nation in the final at Roland Garros (since Bunny Austin achieved that feat in 1937), remains with two Grand Slam titles as he failed to become the first British winner of the French Open since compatriot Fred Perry won it 81 years ago.
“What Novak’s achieved in the last 12 months is phenomenal; winning all the Grand Slams in one year is an amazing achievement. It’s so rare in tennis, and for me personally, it sucks to lose the match,” said Murray.