Novak Djokovic stands alone at the top of men’s tennis after beating Casper Ruud to claim a historic 23rd Grand Slam title at Roland Garros on Sunday.
Djokovic’s 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 7-5 victory over Ruud puts him level with Serena Williams and he could equal Margaret Court’s all-time singles mark at Wimbledon next month.
The Serb, meanwhile, also becomes the first man to win at least three Grand Slam titles in all major tournaments – a measure of his overall greatness.
Djokovic lay down on his back on the clay court before climbing up to his dressing room to hug his entire team, including his children, Stefan and Tara.
A message of congratulations soon arrived from Rafael Nadal, who tweeted: “Many congratulations on this amazing achievement @DjokerNole. 23 is a number that was impossible to think of just a few years ago, and you made it !Enjoy it with your family and team!”
Ruud came out clean, exploiting Djokovic’s unusually leaden footwork with high shots to fend off his opponent and break in game two when the Serb landed a spike – the only remaining weakness in his game.
Djokovic had NFL great Tom Brady in his box of players, while Kylian Mbappe and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were also in the crowd, and they saw Djokovic come back, breaking Game 7 after a punishing rally that ended with a fillet of Ruud.
Djokovic refused to miss another long rally after Ruud created a break point in the following game, but it was the third seed cursing himself for a missed chance at 4-4, with his irritation compounded when he lost his balance and fell sprawling to the clay.
Djokovic also complained vehemently to the referee about the rapid delay between games as the set stretched beyond the hour mark.
The longer it went on, the more important it became to win it, and Ruud was two points off Djokovic’s serve after winning a point with an interpolating lob, but that was as close as he would get.
One of Djokovic’s greatest strengths is his ability to raise his level at key moments and he won an absurd sixth tie-break of the tournament without making a single unforced error.
Given that Djokovic had won his previous 100 Grand Slam matches once he won the first set, it was a blow for Ruud, and it was made worse when he lost serve in the second game of the second. set.
Djokovic now looked fully settled, with his forehand purring, and, although Ruud saved two set points at 2-5, the door was firmly shut in his face in the following game.
Ruud was now hanging on by the nails but he was determined not to let Djokovic get away with it, like Nadal did last year.
The Norwegian found better rhythm on his serve and applied some pressure on Djokovic, although he was left cursing his luck when his opponent benefited from a lucky netcord at 0-30 at 3-4, giving the French crowd one last chance for a ride. to boo.
The question seemed to be when Djokovic would make his move, and he made it 5-5, a series of superlative groundstrokes earning him the break, and moments later his moment in history.
After recovering his second plate from former champion Yannick Noah, Ruud congratulated Djokovic.
“Another day another record for you and another day you rewrite tennis history,” said the fourth seed. “It’s hard to explain how amazing it is and how good you are.”
Turning to his team, Ruud said: “It’s been a long journey, I’m very happy that we can be back in the final and we will continue to work hard to try and get back to the Roland Garros final once again.”