First, let’s not bury the lede.
Nadal Denies Djokovic, and Defies Belief, Once Again
He arrived in Paris full of fresh and legitimate hope. He will depart again without the trophy, which is officially called the Coupe des Mousquetaires but which is clearly in need of a name change at this belief-beggaring stage of the tournament’s history.
In the modern era, no man has had a tighter grip on a Grand Slam event than Rafael Nadal, whose 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Djokovic allowed him to win his ninth French Open by the age of just 28.
Victory was anything but assured - Djokovic won the first set and it looked like risky business as usual for Nadal, who’s had feet of clay lately, losing to David Ferrer in Monte Carlo, Nicolas Almagro in Barcelona and Djokovic in the Rome final.
But Rafa rallied back to win the second set 7-5, and Djokovic started to get that familiar who is this guy? thousand-mile stare.
From there, Nadal turned into the ball-returning machine that Djokovic usually is, getting to 5-4 in the fourth set, which started with Djokovic up 30-0 and ended this way: Djokovic unforced error, Nadal wicked backhand winner, Djokovic unforced error, Djokovic double fault.