Wednesday, July 24, 2024

French Open: Djokovic wins title at Roland Garros for historic 23rd major (Ld)

French Open: Djokovic wins title at Roland Garros for historic 23rd major (Ld)

Already hailed as one of the greatest players to grace the tennis courts, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic on Sunday added to his legendary status by winning a historic 23rd Major, quelled a tough challenge from Casper Ruud to win the French Open men’s singles title, his third crown at Roland Garros making him the oldest male player to bag the title on Parisian clay.

Djokovic came back from a 1-4 deficit in the first set to win it in a tie-break and then claimed the next two sets to prevail over his Norwegian opponent 7-6(1), 6-3, 7-5.

Djokovic overcame a strong start from Ruud on Court-Philippe Chatrier to seal his historic victory. The third seed delivered a high-class tie-break display to claim a first set in which he had trailed 1-4 before producing some of his purest hitting of the fortnight in the second and third en route to a three-hour, 13-minute triumph.

‘Obviously a Grand Slam is a Grand Slam,’ said Djokovic at the trophy ceremony. ‘The four biggest tournaments that we have in our sport. Every single player dreams of being on this stage and winning the trophy at least once in their career. I’m beyond fortunate in my life to win 23 times, it’s an incredible feeling.’

Djokovic thus broke the tie on 22 Grand Slam wins with Rafael Nadal to become the most successful male tennis player ever in Open Era.

With his win, the three-time Roland Garros titlist Djokovic also reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the ATP Rankings from Carlos Alcaraz, eclipsed Rafael Nadal as the oldest Roland Garros champion at the age of 36 years and 20 days and became the first man to win all four Grand Slam events at least three times.

The first set which lasted more than one hour and 20 minutes set the tone for the final as Djokovic fought back after losing his serve and took the match to the tiebreaker.

The 36-year-old Djokovic was broken on a terrible overhead miss in the second game after Ruud held on love. The Norwegian started with a 2-0 advantage, after winning a 10+ minute game that had five deuces and which saw Ruud inch ahead in the end on his third opportunity.

The fourth-seeded Ruud managed to consolidate his break advantage and went up 3-0 by holding his serve.

However, Djokovic claimed his first break of the contest as Ruud fumbled an overhead. He went on to win the next two games, coming back from 1-4 down to level scores 4-4. Ruud then saved a break point en route to making it 5-4. However, despite a sensational point from Ruud which he won thanks to a tweener off a Djokovic lob that gave him a 0-30 advantage, Djokovic managed to dig deep and steer the set to the tie-breaker and grabbed the first set 7-6(1) in 1hr 21mins.

As in his earlier wins against Marton Fucsovics and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Paris, the early tie-break victory appeared to help Djokovic zone in as he maintained his stellar level in the early stages of the second set. He raced to a 3-0 lead by consistently winning the extended exchanges against Ruud, redirecting the Norwegian’s power to devastating effect.

Ruud battled admirably to regain his foothold in a match that looked to be slipping away from him rapidly, but Djokovic’s break in the second game proved enough for him to move further clear. The Serbian dropped just five points behind his serve in the second set as his precise delivery pinned Ruud back and restricted the 10-time ATP Tour titlist’s opportunities to forge a comeback.

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