PARIS: Novak Djokovic became the first man since Rod Laver, at the start of the open era in 1969, to conquer the four-title grand slam when he beat Britain’s Andy Murray to win the French Open.
The 29-year-old Serb won 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 at Roland Garros to win his 12th major title and deny Murray his ambition of securing the third leg of his own career slam, having already won Wimbledon and the US Open.
The Scot, 29, was Britain’s first male finalist in Paris since 1937.
Second seed Murray played superbly to win the first set but could not convert a break point early in the second, and Djokovic took control to win in three hours.
He becomes only the eighth man in history to have won all four of the sport’s major singles prizes – and could yet match Laver’s achievement of winning all four in a calendar year.
Djokovic fell back on the clay in delight and relief after requiring two breaks of serve and four match points in a desperately tense end to the final.
With three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten watching from the stands, Djokovic then emulated the Brazilian by drawing a heart in the clay with his racquet.
“It’s a very special moment, the biggest of my career,” said Djokovic. “I felt today something that I never felt before at Roland Garros, I felt the love of the crowd.
“I drew the heart on the court, like Guga, which he gave me permission to do. My heart will always be with you on this court.”
Murray, who has now lost five Grand Slam finals to Djokovic, had looked capable of causing an upset with an aggressive display in the opening set.
However, Djokovic turned the match around early in the second set and Murray, who had played five hours’ more tennis in reaching the final, could not keep pace.
“To Novak, this is his day,” said Murray. “What he’s achieved the last 12 months is phenomenal; winning all the Grand Slams in one year is an amazing achievement.
“It’s so rare in tennis, and for me personally, it sucks to lose the match, but I’m proud to have been part of today.”