Djokovic Completes Career Grand Slam, Becomes First Man Since Laver in 1969 to Hold All Titles
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
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Novak Djokovic had to be patient. After the US Open in 2011 he had won titles at three of the four Grand Slams, but it took him almost five years to complete the entire set. After losing Roland Garros finals in 2012 and 2014 to Rafael Nadal (and who can forget their semi-final in 2013, which Nadal won 9-7 in the fifth set), Djokovic lost a third final last year, to Stan Wawrinka. But this year the Serbian world number one finally prevailed, beating Andy Murray 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4.
Djokovic was visibly nervous in the first set and who can blame him, after all he has been through at this tournament. The pressure was enormous. Murray smelled blood and was extremely pumped up throughout the first set, not facing any more problems after losing the first game through a love break. Once Djokovic had settled in, however, he left no doubt as to which of the two players would take home the trophy.
In the blink of an eye Djokovic swept through the next three sets and only at a score of 3-6 6-1 6-2 *5-2 he slipped up, failing to serve out the match on his first attempt. None of that mattered in the end, however, as he didn’t make that mistake twice and deservingly won his first Roland Garros title and twelfth overall Grand Slam title. Djokovic celebrated with a tribute to three-time winner Gustavo Kuerten, drawing Kuerten’s trademark heart on the clay.
Djokovic only dropped two sets on his way to the title, the other one coming in his fourth round match against the #14 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, a match plagued by rain delays. Once Djokovic had survived that tricky 3-6 6-4 6-1 7-5 encounter, however, he knew little trouble in the quarter- and semi-final. Respectively seventh seed Tomas Berdych, 6-3 7-5 6-3, and thirteenth seed Dominic Thiem, 6-2 6-1 6-4, were no match for Djokovic.
For 22-year-old Thiem it was still a very special tournament, not only reaching his first Grand Slam quarter- and semi-final, but also cracking the top ten for the first time in his career. A big jump of eight ranking spots sees him land at #7. David Goffin, who lost 6-4 6-7(7) 4-6 1-6 to Thiem in the quarterfinal, is very close to reaching the top ten for the first time as well at #11, only 65 points away from #10 Richard Gasquet.
After dropping four sets in his first two matches, Murray caught a lucky break in the next two rounds, facing very favorable match-ups in serving giants Ivo Karlovic and John Isner. Neither of them managed to take a set off Murray. In the quarterfinal Murray fought out two very high quality sets against ninth seed Richard Gasquet, 5-7 7-6(3), before the Frenchman couldn’t keep any longer and Murray easily took the final two sets 6-0 6-2. In the semi-final Murray rather convincingly took out the defending champion, third seed Stan Wawrinka, 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-2. Wawrinka beat the surprising unseeded quarterfinalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the previous round, 6-2 6-1 7-6(7). To get there, Ramos-Vinolas upset eighth seed Milos Raonic in the fourth round, 6-2 6-4 6-4.
Murray did well to reach his first ever Roland Garros final, but will probably not look at his current 2-8 record in Grand Slam finals with much pleasure. A remarkable difference with the man he beat in the semi-final, Wawrinka, who holds the same amount of Grand Slam titles, but with a 2-0 record in Grand Slam finals.