Sunday, June 5, 2016

Djokovic completes career Grand Slam

Novak Djokovic serves to Andy Murray during the 2015 BNP Paribas
Open in Indian Wells. Djokovic beat Murray in four sets today for his
first French Open title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Novak Djokovic has been racking up Grand Slam titles like frequent flier miles.
   But this one was special.
   After losing three French Open finals, all in the last four years, Djokovic became the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Andy Murray today at Roland Garros.
   Djokovic, 29, joined rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as well as Andre Agassi, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Don Budge and Fred Perry with singles titles in all four majors.
   Djokovic has won five of the last six Slams. Only a four-set loss to Stan Wawrinka in the 2015 French Open final prevented Djokovic from becoming the first man in 47 years and third overall to achieve a calendar-year Grand Slam. Laver accomplished the feat in 1962 and 1969, and Budge in 1938.
   For now, Djokovic will have to be content with becoming the only other man and first since 1969 to hold all four major titles at once.
   "It's a thrilling moment, one of the most beautiful I have had in my career," Djokovic told reporters. "It's incredibly flattering to know that Rod Laver is the last one that managed to do that. There are not many words that can describe it. It's one of the ultimate challenges that you have as a tennis player. I'm very proud and very thrilled.
   "It's hard for me to reflect on what has happened before and what's going to happen after. I'm just so overwhelmed with having this trophy next to me that I'm just trying to enjoy this moment."
   With his 12th Grand Slam singles title, Djokovic passed Laver and Bjorn Borg and tied Emerson for fourth place. Should Djokovic achieve a calendar-year Grand Slam in 2016, a distinct possibility, he will tie Nadal and Pete Sampras for second place with 14 and pull within three of Federer.
  Laver was barred from Grand Slam tournaments for five years in his prime until professionals were allowed beginning in 1968. Emerson, who remained an amateur, won 10 of his 12 Slams during Laver's absence.
   And should Djokovic also win the singles gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August, he will become the first man to earn a so-called Golden Slam. Tennis was dropped from the Olympics after the 1924 Games and returned as a full medal sport in 1988, when Steffi Graf swept all five titles.
Murray fell to 2-8 in Grand Slam finals. Five of the losses have come
against Djokovic and three against Roger Federer. This was Murray's
first French Open final. 2015 photo by Paul Bauman
   Murray, playing in his first French Open final, fell to 2-8 in Grand Slam title matches. Five of the losses have come against Djokovic and three against Federer. However, Murray beat Djokovic to win the 2012 U.S. Open and Wimbledon in 2013, ending a 77-year drought for British men at the All England Club.
   Murray went undefeated in two appearances in the now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., winning his first career ATP World Tour title there 10 years ago at 18 and repeating in 2007. Djokovic never played in the SAP Open.
   Djokovic, admittedly nervous in the first set of today's final, played brilliantly from the beginning of the second set until 5-2 in the fourth. He pounded serves down the middle, ripped groundstrokes to the corners and exhibited his peerless defense and return-of-serve.
   Then, understandably, nerves set in again. Djokovic was broken for 5-3 but held his next service game for the title.
   "This is his day today," a gracious Murray -- who turned 29 on May 15, one week before Djokovic -- said during the award ceremony. "What he's achieved in the last 12 months is phenomenal. Winning all four of the Grand Slams in one year is an amazing achievement. It's something that is so rare in tennis. It's not happened for an extremely long time, and it's going to take a long time for it to happen again. Everyone here who came to watch is extremely lucky to see it. Losing in the final (stinks), but I'm proud to have been a part of it today."
   Before the men's singles final, Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic became the first French team to win the women's doubles title at Roland Garros since Gail Chanfreau and Francoise Durr in 1971.
   Garcia and Mladenovic, seeded fifth, topped Russia's Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, the seventh seeds and 2013 champions, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

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