Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Making history 'not a primary thought' says Novak Djokovic after French Open defeat to Rafael Nadal

Rod Laver's 43-year reign as the last man to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time is safe for another year at least, and Novak Djokovic is not about to start worrying about the one that got away.

Since Laver won the calendar Grand Slam for the second time in 1969, three men have had the chance to make it four in a row - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.



Federer was twice foiled by Nadal in French Open finals, the Spaniard succumbed to knee problems in Australia and yesterday Djokovic's hopes went the same way as Federer's.



The world number one had been in the ascendancy when play was called off on Sunday evening because of rain, with Nadal having just put an end to an eight-game losing run that had seen Djokovic go from two sets and a break down to a break up in the fourth set.



But things were very different yesterday, Nadal breaking back immediately and then piling on the pressure until his opponent cracked, serving a double fault on match point to hand the Spaniard a 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5 victory and a record seventh title.



Djokovic said: "The disappointment is there because I lost the match. Yes, there was obviously the opportunity to make history as well, but it was not a primary thought in my mind. I was excited about this opportunity. Nothing more than that, really.



"Unfortunately there was a rain delay when I started to feel really good on the court.



"But I don't want to find an excuse in that, because the first rain delay maybe helped me a little bit, the second helped him. So that's the way it goes, and the better player won."



The game Nadal won to stop the rot on Sunday night had seemed little more than a small crumb of comfort at the time, but by yesterday it had taken on new significance.



The 26-year-old admitted he had struggled to deal with the long delay, saying: "For me, the last game before we stopped was very important after eight games in a row.



"I really felt nervous. My feeling was I wasn't ready for the match until three minutes before. That was the first moment since we stopped that I really felt that I am here to play. I was more nervous than usual because of the situation."



Nadal's victory meant he surpassed Bjorn Borg to become the only man to win seven titles at Roland Garros, and he celebrated exuberantly with his family and friends in the stands.



He added: "For me it's a really emotional day to win another time here. Sure the seventh is important because I am the player who has more, but that's after, the most important thing is to win Roland Garros, whether it's the first, second, third or seventh."

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