At Roland Garros on Sunday, Novak Djokovic broke new ground in men’s tennis when he defeated Casper Ruud 7-6, 6-3, 7-5 to win a record 23rd major championship.
Ruud got out to a great start on Court-Philippe Chatrier but Djokovic rallied to overcome him and secure his historic victory. The third seed won the first set after trailing 1-4 to begin. Novak then produced some of the best hitting of the past two days in the second and third sets en route to glory.
With his triumph, the three time French Open champion also dethroned Rafael Nadal as the oldest Roland Garros victor at 36 years, 20 days old, reclaimed the top spot in the ATP Rankings from Carlos Alcaraz and became the first person to win all four Grand Slam competitions at least three times.
Djokavic Dominates in Three Sets
Djokovic appeared uneasy in the early going of Sunday’s final against 24 year old Norwegian, Casper Ruud, who was going for his first major title after twice losing finals last year. As Ruud drove him more into the court, Djokavic committed a flurry of unforced errors and fell behind 4-2 in the opening set.
However, as the first half went on, the then third seed became more dominant and utilised his wealth of experience to dominate the tie break, as Ruud withered in front of a star studded crowd that included British actor Hugh Grant and future Hall of Fame NFL quarterback, Tom Brady.
The third set was a greater battle than the second. Djokovic won the latter in a relatively quick 48 minutes but the Serb was forced to turn up the intensity in vital moments during the match’s final games. At 5-5, a thunderous winner put Ruud on the back foot, forcing the Norwegian to commit an error before two more winners from Novak placed him in position to serve for the championship.
In the definitive game, Djokovic jumped out to a 40-0 lead and, despite missing a forehand on the opening championship point to dampen the moment, he went on to make history with a winning point that sent the Serbian down to the clay, where he laid for a short while to soak in the moment. In all, the match lasted three hours and thirteen minutes.
Djokavic was magnanimous in post game interviews, praising his opponent as well as Ruud’s family, trainers and entourage. He went on to thank those who have continued to support him through recent challenges and reflected on the journey he has taken to claim this historic title.
“I’m beyond fortunate to win 23 Grand Slams in my life, it is incredible. I was a seven-year-old dreaming I could win Wimbledon one day and become number one in the world. I’m beyond grateful and and blessed to be standing here. I feel I had the power to create my own destiny. I want to say to every young person if you want a better future, you can create it.”Novak Djokavic after winning the French Open
The man Djokavic surpassed as oldest Roland Garros winner, Rafa Nadal, reached out to congratulate his rival on Twitter:
With Roland Garros 2023 confined to the annals of time, bookmakers already have Novak Djokovic as the favourite to win July’s Wimbledon tournament. According to DraftKings Sportbook, Djokovic is a -125 favorite to win the tournament. Carlos Alcaraz follows at +330 an Daniil Medvedev is +650.
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