Djokovic lifts maiden French Open title to complete career grand slam

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Image Courtesy: © Twitter - Roland Garros

Djokovic lifts maiden French Open title to complete career grand slam

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Arun S Kaimal

06/05/2016

After three failed attempts, World No.1 and top seed, Novak Djokovic emerged victorious in his fourth Roland Garros final by defeating Andy Murray 3-6, 6-1,6-2, 6-4. Djokovic lost the first set to Murray, but came back strongly to became the 8th man in history to complete a career grand slam.

In the second grand slam of the year, we saw a repeat of what happened in the first. World No.1 and top seed Novak Djokovic took the French Open title away from Andy Murray, just like he did at the Australian Open in January. A slice of history also came with the title as Djokovic became the eighth man in the history of tennis to win all four Grand Slams, joining Rod Laver, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Roy Emerson, Don Budge and Fred Perry. His 28th consecutive grand slam win also gave him the distinction of holding all the four grand slams across the three surfaces simultaneously, becoming the third person to achieve it after Rod Laver won his famous pair of Grand Slams in 1962 and 1969 and Don Budge. Djokovic’s 12th grand slam title also moved him to joint fourth in the all time list, alongside Roy Emerson, for most major titles with just Roger Federer (17), Rafael Nadal (14), and Pete Sampras (14) ahead of him.

(Also, read Statistical comparison- Is Djokovic a “greater” player than Nadal already?)

The illustrious day for Djokovic started in a very different fashion to his opponent Andy Murray, who was also searching for his first French Open title. Both the players slugged it out from the baseline for the opening point before a backhand drop-shot from Djokovic won it for him. With Murray stranded on love on his own serve, the top seed raced ahead, and ended the game with a backhand winner. It looked all too simple for Djokovic, but Murray bounced back and made sure that it was no repeat of the one-sided Australian Open final in January.

The Scot came right back into the match in the second game winning three points in a row to go 0-40 up with unforced errors from Djokovic lending a helping hand. Three break points were in the bag, and Murray looked set to make it 1-1 on the afternoon. However, Djokovic saved the first with a smash before producing an ace to make it 30-40. But, Murray sealed the break with an outrageous backhand lob.

That start to the match, set it up to be a classic. But, Murray was yet to reach his full stride. The second seed held his serve to love, and then once again broke Djokovic in the next game to make it 3-1. Both players matched each other with one powerful shot after another, but Murray’s forehand packed enough punch to race past the top seed. If it all looked easy for Djokovic in the first game, it was the other way around in the rest of the set. Although the World No.2 lost a bit of concentration in the seventh game after someone in the crowd moved in his eyeline, he still regained his composure, and took the first set 6-3 with a powerful forehand winner.

13 unforced errors from Djokovic stood out in the first set as Andy Murray looked all too comfortable at the Roland Garros. The World No.1 needed to get a hold on those errors to get back into the match, and he did just that in the second set. The Serbian started with a tight first game, where he saved a break point before banking on his forehand to force an error from his rival. Another well-placed effort forced Murray to play it back to the net as Djokovic started the second set on a positive note. The World No.1 then broke through Murray in the next game with a double fault from the Scot helping the Serbian.

(Also, read about Dominic Thiem – the challenger in making to Djokovic's throne?)

The tide definitely turned after the opening set, and all of a sudden it was Murray who was making the unforced errors. Powerful baseline shots, which came in handy for the Scot in the opening set, went away in the second set, and Murray’s seemingly dropped his level of performance after that burst in the opener. The Serbian’s serves came back, and it was back to the familiar story of Djokovic dominating Murray, like he did in the final of the Australian Open. Djokovic seemed in a hurry and won the secon set 6-1 to restore parity in the match. 

The third set was a repeat of the second as Djokovic looked in control of the match. Murray looked down every time after he lost a point, and he was seemingly affected when the crowd started cheering for his opponent. The match became more of a mental battle, and Murray lost it completely. It looked all too easy for the Serbian. Murray needed something to get back into the match, and he got the chance in the sixth game of the third set. The Scot took a 15-40 lead against the World No.1 and had four chances to break his serve, however, Djokovic bounced back and showed tremendous character to shut the door on Murray's face. The script was moving towards an inevitable end.

A 6-2 win in the third set put Djokovic within touching distance of his maiden French Open title, but Murray delayed the inevitable with a spirited fight back. But it was too little, too late. With Djokovic serving for the title at 5-3, Murray broke through and then held his serve to make a match out of nothing. But the ‘Unstoppable’ was not to be stopped. Djokovic served for the title for the second time in the match and although it went to a deuce, an unforced error by Murray helped the World No.1 lift his maiden French Open title. 

(Also read - The 10 Greatest Quotes by Muhammad Ali)

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