Djokovic Outlasts Murray For Historic Roland Garros Crown
Previously a three-time finalist in Paris (2012, '14-15), Djokovic captured the lone piece of major silverware missing from his growing trophy case, becoming the eighth man in history to complete the career Grand Slam. The Serbian is most impressively just the third to hold all four major crowns at the same time, joining Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 & '69).
"It's a thrilling moment," said Djokovic. "One of the most beautiful I have had in my career... "It's incredibly flattering to know that Rod Laver is the last one that managed to do that. There are not many words that can describe it. It's one of the ultimate challenges that you have as a tennis player. I'm very proud and very thrilled. It's hard for me to reflect on what has happened before and what's going to happen after. I'm just so overwhelmed with having this trophy next to me that I'm just trying to enjoy this moment."
He notched his 12th Grand Slam championship in total, drawing level with Roy Emerson for fourth place on the all-time title list. In addition, the Serbian is the first player since Jim Courier in 1992 to hold the first two majors of the year, by winning the Australian Open and Roland Garros.
"This is Novak's day," Murray said on court following the match. "Winning all four Grand Slams at once is a great achievement. This is something that is so rare in tennis. What he's achieved the last 12 months is phenomenal. I'm proud to be part of it today."
Players To Hold All Four Majors At Same Time
||1962 & '69
Players To Achieve Career Grand Slam
||1938 Roland Garros
||22 years, 357 days
||1962 US Open
||24 years, 32 days
||2010 US Open
||24 years, 101 days
||1935 Roland Garros
||26 years, 15 days
||2009 Roland Garros
||27 years, 203 days
||27 years, 244 days
|Novak Djokovic||2016 Roland Garros
||29 years, 14 days
||1999 Roland Garros
||29 years, 38 days
Read: How The Final Was Won
Meeting for the seventh time in a Grand Slam final and 34th overall in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry, Djokovic overcame a sluggish start in the opening set. The first seven points of the match went against serve as breaks were exchanged to open proceedings. Murray struck a sublime lob over the outstretched arms of his Serbian opponent to secure the break and the Scot would dominate the court position battle, coaxing multiple errors from Djokovic.
Entering Sunday, Murray had owned a 9-4 record against Djokovic when claiming the first set, but the World No. 1 would quickly discover his rhythm from the baseline as momentum swung in his favour. He snatched an immediate break for 2-0 in the second set, working all corners of the court with drop shots and backhand winners and extinguishing any nerves from the early stages.
Djokovic grabbed another quick break to open the third set and yet another to open the fourth. Murray dug in his heels with the Serbian serving for the match at 5-2, claiming one break back, but the top seed's moment of glory would eventually come two games later after three hours and three minutes, securing the Coupe de Mousquetaires for the first time. He emerged victorious on his third match point.
"I entered the court quite prepared," Djokovic added. "I started well in first game and then I dropped four straight games. Nerves kicked in. I needed a little bit of time to really find the right rhythm and start to play the way I intended, which happened in the beginning of the second and practically until 5-2 in the fourth set. It was flawless tennis. I really felt like I played on a high quality and putting a lot of pressure on Andy's serves and just trying to hang in there."
Djokovic survived an unorthodox path to the title, having played five matches in six days after persistent rain and gloomy weather disrupted the schedule on multiple occasions. The sun finally made an appearance in time for the trophy ceremony on Sunday, as Djokovic grabbed the ballkids to join him for his signature 'sending my love salute', blowing kisses to the crowd. Akin to Gustavo Kuerten's tribute, he then drew a heart in the clay and collapsed inside it. The first player in history to pass the $100 million mark in career earnings, he moved to within one title of Roger Federer on the list of 'Big Title' leaders. Federer currently owns a combined 47 crowns at Grand Slams, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Djokovic has 46, with Nadal in third place with 42.
In notching his 65th tour-level crown, Djokovic also claimed sole possession of sixth place on the Open Era tour-level titles list, passing Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras. He is only four titles behind Rafael Nadal for fifth.
Most Tour-Level Titles (Open Era)
World No. 1 Djokovic receives €2,000,000 in prize money and 2,000 Emirates ATP Rankings points, while Murray takes home €1,000,000 and 1,200 points. The World No. 2 was attempting to become just the second British man to win the Roland Garros title, after Fred Perry in 1935.
Murray completed a strong week in reaching his first final on the terre battue, having fought through a pair of five-set battles against Radek Stepanek and Mathias Bourgue to open the tournament. He joined an exclusive club as the 10th player to complete the set of Grand Slam final appearances, joining Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Laver, Courier, Andre Agassi, Stefan Edberg, Ivan Lendl and Ken Rosewall. Murray fell to 2-8 in Grand Slam finals and 36-19 overall at the tour-level.
"At points I did well," Murray said in press. "Not necessarily the whole match. He did play extremely well and gave me very few errors. He started hitting the ball a bit close to the lines and I was dropping a bit far back behind the baseline. Against him, obviously if you're letting the best players control points, that's tough. I wasn't able to dictate enough points after the beginning of the match.
"When you get here (the final), obviously you want to win. I didn't do that today. Right now I'm very disappointed, but the tournament could have been quite different had I gone out in the first round."