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Beaten Andy Murray pays tribute as Djokovic joins greats with French Open win

By Paul Newman

Published 06/06/2016

Best of enemies: Andy Murray congratulates Novak Djokovic after the Serb clinched an elusive French Open title
Best of enemies: Andy Murray congratulates Novak Djokovic after the Serb clinched an elusive French Open title

Andy Murray's disappointment was clear, but the Scot took consolation from being part of an historic day as Novak Djokovic became the first man since 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

By beating Murray 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4 to win the French Open, Djokovic also became only the eighth man in history to win all four Grand Slam titles.

At the presentation ceremony Murray said that everyone in the crowd had been fortunate to be there and added: "For me personally, being on the other side of the net it sucks to lose the match, but I'm proud to have been part of today."

Djokovic described his victory as "a very special moment, perhaps the biggest of my career" while Murray said: "This is Novak's day. What he has achieved in the last 12 months is phenomenal.

"Winning all four of the Grand Slams in the last year is an amazing achievement. That's something that is so rare in tennis. It hasn't happened for an extremely long time and it will take a long time for it to happen again."

The World No.1 said it was "incredibly flattering" to know that Rod Laver had been the last player to hold all four Grand Slam trophies at the same time.

"There are not many words that can describe it," he said. "It's one of the ultimate challenges that you have. I'm very proud."

Djokovic said that his rivalry with his fellow members of the "Big Four" - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Murray - had played a big part in making him a better player.

"Nadal and Federer were so dominant in the sport when Andy and myself came in," he said. "At the beginning I was not glad to be part of their era. Later on I realised that in life everything happens for a reason. You're put in this position with a purpose, a purpose to learn and to grow and to evolve.

"I realised that I needed to get stronger and accept the fact that I was competing with these two tremendous champions and everything was uphill from that moment on."

Murray said he did not regret being part of an era in which his three biggest rivals have now won all four Grand Slam titles.

"I have been close-ish to winning all of the Slams now and unfortunately all of them have done it instead," he said.

"But I've got a few more years to try and do that. I think when I finish I will maybe be more proud of my achievements. None of the big events I have won have I done it without beating one of those guys, or a couple of them."

Murray said he had not been surprised that Djokovic had the majority of the support.

"What Novak achieved is something extremely special, and a lot of people would have wanted to have seen that and been a part of that. He deserves the support he gets."

Asked how he thought he would eventually look back on this tournament, Murray said: "It's difficult just now to know. I'm very disappointed. But from 13 days ago, I would have signed to have been in this position.

"I was struggling. I was a couple of points from going out of the tournament in the first round. But then when you get there you want to win and I didn't do that.

"At points I did well, but not necessarily the whole match. He played extremely well. He gave me very few errors.

"He started hitting the ball a bit close to the lines and I was dropping a bit far back behind the baseline. If you're letting the best players control points, that's tough. I wasn't able to dictate enough points after the beginning.

"I could have served better. I didn't serve particularly well. On this surface it's harder to get free points on your second serve.

"Maybe on the quicker surfaces you can do that. When you serve a 100mph second serve on the grass it's different to doing it on a slow, heavy clay court."

Murray said the slow and heavy conditions had been difficult throughout the tournament.

"They have been challenging for all the players," he said. "If you aren't the one dictating the points you end up doing quite a bit of running and it's not easy. It was tough. I kept fighting till the end, but I wasn't able to play my best when I needed to."

Djokovic agreed that saving a break point in the first game of the second set had been important but added: "I think in general, just in the second set, I still felt different than I had in the first set. I restarted my system and I got myself to run in a positive direction. I felt better, more comfortable on the court."

The Serb said he could not remember the closing stages.

"It was one of those moments where you just try to be there," he said. "It was like my spirit had left my body and I was observing my body fight the last three or four exchanges. It was a thrilling moment, one of the most beautiful I have had in my career."

Murray was asked if he would relish the chance to play Djokovic at Wimbledon, which begins in three weeks' time. "We've only played twice on grass," Murray said. "I won both those matches. I have played some of my best tennis on clay over the last few weeks and definitely the last couple of years. Hopefully that translates well on to the grass.

"I will try and have a good run on the grass. If we meet on the grass, I'll try and learn from the last few weeks."

Djokovic said he had not thought about the possibility of winning a pure Grand Slam of the four major tournaments in the same year but added: "I really think everything is achievable in life."

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