Novak Djokovic won the men's singles at the French Open, claiming his 23rd Grand Slam title.

Novak Djokovic won the men’s singles at the French Open, claiming his 23rd Grand Slam title.

Novak Djokovic has made it obvious for years that this is his ambition. What pushed him. What motivated him. Djokovic’s major goal was to win the greatest trophies on the largest platforms in his sport, and today he stands alone — ahead of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and every other guy who has ever swung a racket.
If Djokovic could wait this long to hold this record, he could easily wait the half-hour or so it needed to straighten up his swings in the French Open final. So, after a rocky start in dense, humid air and behind threatening charcoal clouds on Sunday, he forced himself. Casper Ruud, the opponent at Court Philippe Chatrier, never had a chance after that.

With a 7-6 (1), 6-3, 7-5 win against Ruud, Djokovic broke a tie with Nadal and moved three points ahead of the retiring Federer.
Djokovic, 36, of Serbia, adds this championship to the French Open titles he won in 2016 and 2021, making him the only player with at least three from each major tournament. He has 10 Australian Open titles, seven Wimbledon titles, and three US Open titles.
It’s also worth mentioning that Djokovic is halfway to completing a calendar-year Grand Slam, something no player has done since Rod Laver in 1969. Djokovic came close to accomplishing this record in 2021, when he won the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon and advanced to the U.S. Open championship round before losing to Daniil Medvedev.
Djokovic will renew that chase at Wimbledon, which starts on the All England Club’s grass on July 3.
He has now won 11 of the previous 20 Slams, a fantastic record made the more astonishing by the fact that he missed two majors during that time due to COVID-19. Djokovic was banned from Australia before the Australian Open in January 2021, and he was barred from flying to the United States before of last year’s U.S. Open due to a regulation that has since been repealed.
Getting to 23 not only establishes a record for men, but also ties Djokovic with Serena Williams, who retired last year, for the most by anybody in the Open era, which started in 1968. Margaret Court won part of her 24 Slam titles as an amateur.
Djokovic is the oldest singles winner at Roland Garros, which is regarded the most gruelling of the majors due to the long, grinding points needed by the red clay, which is slower than grass or hard courts elsewhere.
Nadal’s 22nd major title come in Paris a year ago, two days after he turned 36. He has been out since January due to a hip ailment and had arthroscopic surgery on June 2.
As if that wasn’t enough, Djokovic’s victory on Sunday means he will reclaim the top spot in the ATP rankings on Monday, displacing Carlos Alcaraz. Since the debut of computerised tennis rankings a half-century ago, Djokovic has spent more weeks at the top than any other player – male or woman.
Djokovic defeated Alcaraz in the semifinals on Thursday, wearing him down over two dramatic sets until the 20-year-old Spaniard’s body cramped up horribly. Alcaraz continued to play, but the last two sets of the four-set match revealed the story: 6-1, 6-1.
Ruud, a 24-year-old Norwegian, reached his third Slam final in five competitions, although he is currently 0-3. He lost to Nadal at the French Open a year ago and to Alcaraz at the US Open in September.
Djokovic, in his 34th major final, got off to a rough start, maybe owing to a sense of what was at risk.
Ruud was welcomed with a standing ovation and courteous applause. More people surged to their feet when Djokovic entered, followed by loud cries of his two-syllable moniker, “No-le! No-le! No-le!” That song restarted shortly before the game began — and again throughout the day, sometimes to praise his greatest moments, sometimes to encourage him.
The crowd erupted when Djokovic rattled off 12 of the final 13 points to conclude the match, collapsing onto his back with his limbs splayed wide at the conclusion.
What is the recommended way to greet Ruud? Drawn-out, monotonous pronouuncements of his last name — “Ruuuuuuuuuud” — that sounded as though it were booing, which, of course, it was not.
At initially, Ruud looked to do everything he could to put Djokovic’s weaker side, his forehand, to the test.
For whatever reason, the shot has always been Djokovic’s “bête noire,” and he missed another overhead later in the set.
Ruud soon led 4-1, due in part to Djokovic’s difficulties. Djokovic had 13 unforced mistakes at that point, while Ruud had just four.
Then everything changed.
After ending the first set with 18 unforced mistakes, Djokovic reduced his errors to 14 over the next two sets combined.
Then it was Ruud’s turn to miss an overhead, rolling back and putting his into the net to conclude a 29-stroke point. Djokovic’s first serve break made it 4-3, and he shook his right fist.
They proceeded to a tiebreaker, which Djokovic dominated. When the import grows along with the strain, he just shines. It seems to have been forever.
Djokovic has four wins and zero unforced mistakes in the first to seven set.
His career record in tiebreakers was 308-162, with a winning percentage of.655. In 2023, he’s 15-4, including 6-0 in Paris — there were 55 points played in that half-dozen, and Djokovic had zero unforced mistakes.
Read it again: zero.
That set alone lasted 1 hour and 21 minutes and was jam-packed with long exchanges, the kind of moments about which whole tales might be written. There were some who lasted 20, 25, and 29 strokes. Ruud won one with a back-to-the-net, between-the-legs shot. On another, Djokovic slid beyond the baseline, staining his red shirt, blue shorts, and skin with the rust-colored clay.
On defence, Djokovic’s scrambling, stretching, bending, and twisting is evident. However, all long points deplete a foe’s vitality and will.
Perhaps it also helps that Djokovic understands all the ins and outs. He protested to chair umpire Damien Dumusois about the amount of time given for changeovers – a little additional rest never harmed anybody, right? Djokovic used the 25-second serve clock until it expired and then some, to the point that one person from the audience screamed, “Serve it!” And Dumusois cautioned him about the time-wasting in the third set.
Djokovic slapped his right index finger repeatedly against his temple after breaking Ruud to lead 3-0 in the second set. He pivoted to face his adjoining box in the stands, whose visitors included his coach, Goran Ivanisevic; his wife and two children; his agent; and even seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady.
If Grand Slam titles are the yardstick, no one can deny Djokovic’s current standing.

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