Rafael Nadal described his record-setting seventh French Open triumph as an “unforgettable” moment after the Spanish World No 2 defeated Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 in yesterday’s final.
Victory took Nadal past the six Roland Garros titles he shared with Swedish legend Bjorn Borg and his career majors total to 11.
“It is an honour and for me, the most important tournament, the greatest in my eyes,” said Nadal, adding: “This is an unforgettable moment for me, there are a lot of emotions. It was a privilege to play against one of the best in the world.”
Nadal later admitted he had been worried about yesterday’s final, which had resumed with Djokovic 2-1 ahead with a break in the fourth set after Sunday’s action had been stopped twice because of rain and poor playing conditions.
“I was anxious about playing. The conditions last night were not right for a Grand Slam final,” he said.
“Today I wasn’t ready for the match — not two hours, or even one hour before the match restarted. I only felt ready to go on court three minutes before. Only then did I feel ready to play. Before that I was too nervous.”
Nadal had been a set and 5-3 ahead when play was first halted on Sunday.
On resumption, he took the set and went 2-0 up in the third before he lost both, his composure and eight straight games, as Djokovic hit back to take the third set and open a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
“The conditions were unusual and the balls were heavier than ever. The bounces were bad in the last half hour and I think the conditions were more favourable for Novak than for me,” said the champion.
“He played fantastic, won eight games in a row and did everything very well. I wasn’t able to push him back and he was able to push me back. I was in negative positions. But the last game which I won for 2-1 was very important.”
For five-time major winner Djokovic, the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion, this defeat was the end of his dream of emulating Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) by holding all the four Grand Slams at once.
Djokovic admitted he was disappointed when the final was halted for a second and last time on a rain-plagued Sunday.
“I started to play better in the third set. I hoped to play a fifth set. The first interruption (a set and 5-3 down in the second set) helped me. But the second break didn’t,” he said.