Djokovic wins record 23rd men’s Grand Slam with third French Open

Djokovic dispatches Casper Ruud in straight sets to break record for most major singles trophies in the history of men’s tennis.

Novak Djokovic has won his men’s record 23rd Grand Slam title with a 7-6 (1), 6-3, 7-5 victory over Casper Ruud in the French Open final, strengthening his case to be crowned the greatest player of all time.

On Sunday, the 36-year-old Serbian broke a tie with rival Rafael Nadal for the most major singles trophies in the history of men’s tennis, a record that dates back to the 1800s.

Nadal, a 14-time champion at Roland-Garros, missed this year’s tournament because he is injured.

This victory goes alongside the French Open titles earned by Djokovic in 2016 and 2021, making him the only man with at least three wins from each major event. Since collecting his very first Slam trophy at the 2008 Australian Open, he has accumulated totals of 10 there, seven at Wimbledon and three at the US Open.

Djokovic is again halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam – winning all four majors in one season – something no man has achieved since Rod Laver in 1969. Djokovic came close to pulling off that feat in 2021, when he won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon and made it all the way to the title match at the US Open before losing to Daniil Medvedev.

Only Margaret Court and Serena Williams in women’s tennis have managed to rack up 23 Grand Slam titles. Court’s all-time mark of 24 will now be in Djokovic’s sights at Wimbledon next month.

“A Grand Slam is a Grand Slam – four biggest tournaments that we have in the history of our sport, tennis. Every single player dreams of being on this stage and winning the trophy at least once in their career. I am beyond fortunate in my life to win, 23 times, Grand Slams,” Djokovic said, wearing a red jacket with the number stitched on the chest.

“It’s an incredible, incredible feeling.”

Ruud paid tribute to Djokovic during the post-match ceremony.

“Another day, another record for you,” Ruud said. “Another day you write tennis history. Just tough to explain how incredible it is and what an inspiration you are.”

Infographic on Djokovic

There is little sign of Djokovic slowing down. He is now the oldest French Open champion, but 11 of his Slam trophies have now been won after he turned 30.

On Monday, he will reclaim the world number one ranking and start his 388th week in the top spot.

The sense of Sunday’s occasion certainly attracted sports A-listers.

US National Football League legend Tom Brady watched from the Djokovic box, while football stars Kylian Mbappe and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sat side by side in the VIP area that also accommodated former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, a regular this weekend.

Ruud congratulates Djokovic
Norway’s Casper Ruud, right, congratulates Djokovic on his win [Christian Hartmann/Reuters]

Djokovic was playing in his seventh French Open final and boasted a 4-0 career record over Ruud, not having lost a single set.

However, the fourth-ranked Norwegian was the more composed of the two at the start, sprinting out of the blocks for a 2-0 lead when Djokovic shanked an overhead.

Ruud, the 2022 runner-up to Nadal, stretched to 3-0 and 4-1 before Djokovic retrieved the break in the seventh game when his opponent buried an easy smash into the net with an open court begging. It came at the end of a lung-busting 28-shot rally.

Djokovic missed a break point in the ninth game, tumbling to the red clay as he chased down a Ruud drive.

His frustration boiled over when he angrily accused umpire Damien Dumusois of rushing the players between changeovers on a heavy, humid afternoon in the French capital.

Fired up, he then raced through the tiebreak, sealing the opener with a running forehand.

Tellingly, that was Djokovic’s sixth tiebreak at this French Open, and in none of them had he committed a single unforced error in the 55 points contested.

Despite being Djokovic’s junior by 12 years, Ruud, who also lost the 2022 US Open final to Carlos Alcaraz, suddenly looked spent.

Djokovic broke for 2-0 in the second set and despite Ruud saving two set points in the eighth game, the Serb moved closer to his dream.

Ruud saved a break point in the third game of the third set before Djokovic was hit with a warning for taking too long between points.

But he wasn’t thrown out of his stride.

Djokovic broke for love at 6-5 and sealed his place in history when Ruud went wide.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies