Ninth trophy for Nadal (©GettyImages)
Ninth trophy for Nadal (©GettyImages).

Rafael Nadal rules the French Open again

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Rafael Nadal is prone to breaking records, and he enjoyed breaking some more this past weekend as he stormed to a ninth French Open crown.

As we've seen so many times in a truly blessed period for tennis, the Spaniard was involved in a titan tussle with his great rival Novak Djokovic which he eventually won 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4.

Nadal becomes the first man to ever win five French Open titles in a row as well as being the first to win nine, he also the only player to win majors in ten consecutive years. 

Furthermore, the 28-year-old picks up his 14th Grand Slam title to draw level with Pete Sampras' haul. Only Roger Federer, on 17, is left to catch.

Sympathy and praise must also be afforded the loser of the contest. It pays testament to how great the 'King of Clay' really is that an amazing player like Djokovic remains empty handed at Roland Garros.

The six-time major winner must be wondering - much like Federer used to before 2009 - just what he has to do to complete his Career Slam.

All of the talk before the start of the two-week event was focused on this being the year that the Serbian would finally dethrone the king after a sublime spell of form in the run-up.

The world no.2 came out like a man who was prepared to wait no-longer for his elusive gong as well.

After both men held serve in the early stages of a boiling-hot Philippe Chartier-court, Djokovic got the crucial break at 4-3 to put him on-course for the first set. He then held on as the reigning champ had two chances to restore parity in the very next game to take the lead.

The second set was where the final began to see the beginnings of a momentum-change. Djokovic had done well to nullify Nadal's greatest weapon on his forearm until conditions and a partisan crowd started to play their part.

At 3-2, Nadal pushed his opponent's serve all the way with some lusty winners and finally took a break point having squandered one previously.

However, the set was leveled up in the very next game as Nadal could save just one of two break opportunities.

A cooler more consistent rhythm pursued until 6-5, both athletes put some energy conservation into practice. Djokovic's double fault put him on the ropes and he was unable to overturn the deficit as his pumped-up opponent cashed-in two set points.

If the Serbian star was disappointed for letting his lead slip, he would've been even more frustrated as he began to fall away in the third.

Breaks at the beginning and end did for the clearly irked and angry 27-year-old - 2-6 - as he became more and more annoyed at some disruptive chants in the crowd.

It looked as though it would be a simple fourth and winning set for Nadal as he broke Djokovic to make it 4-2. But as cloud cover provided respite from the debilitating heat, the 2012 finalist sensed his necessity to break back and he did so in the very next point.

To take this into a decisive final set, there had to be another break from the challenger and while he pushed hard at 4-4, it wasn't forthcoming.

The pressure finally told as Djokovic served to stay in the tournament. At Championship point to Nadal, a double-fault provided a tame ending to an enthralling encounter. 

The Majorcan-star had coped with the weight of expectation and conditions better as he sunk to his knees for a ninth time.

A standing-ovation and long applause were not exclusively for the champion as the crowd recognised the lengths that both men had gone to lift the silver trophy.

Nadal had managed to overturn a run of consecutive defeats against Djokovic to take their overall head-to-head record to 23-19 in the Spaniard's favour.

There's never a dull moment when the duo play. Long live this rivalry, but it is Rafael Nadal who will be celebrating before Wimbledon begins later this month.

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Novak Djokovic
French Open
Rafael Nadal

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