Game-by-game blog: Nadal beats Djokovic to win ninth French Open

This was what we wanted all along.

After two weeks on the red clay of Paris, it came down to the world’s best two players — No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic — in the final of the 2014 French Open.

With eight titles in Paris already to his name, Nadal was the most decorated player in French Open history going into the match. Sunday, he improved his incredible record at Roland Garros to 66-1 all-time in a brutal test against Djokovic in the title match.

Nadal added another Slam title to his growing mantel — he now owns 14 of the sport’s biggest trophies — and will be the world No. 1 when Monday’s rankings are released.

Recap all the action from Sunday’s match below with our game-by-game live blog.


French Open men’s final

 

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1 Rafael Nadal

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2 Novak Djokovic

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Game 10: At 30-15, Nadal smokes a great backhand passing shot off his shoestrings to put himself two points from the title. Djokovic misses a forehand on the next point to bring Nadal to championship point. And on a double fault, Djokovic hands it to Nadal. Nine times a French Open champion!

Game 9: Yikes. At 30-30, Nadal wins the point and then tweaks his leg … while celebrating the point. He appears OK, but Djokovic wins the next point for deuce. Nadal fights it off to hold for 5-4.

Game 8: A little extra pep in Djokovic’s step now that he sees his opponent ailing a bit. Easy hold for 4-4, but now the big game for Rafa. Can he hold?

Game 7: Now Nadal’s having his own issues, as he labors around the court. At 15-30, Nadal hits an overhead weakly into the net and curls over in pain. Two break points for Djokovic and all of a sudden this is very intriguing again in a sad sort of way. Nadal saves the first but not the second. We’re back on serve, and who’s health will allow him to get to the finish line?

Game 6: Nadal pesters Djokovic to deuce on the strength of a brilliant cross-court forehand winner. Nadal eventually manages a break point and now things are really serious for Novak. After a long rally, Djokovic flares a backhand wide, and now Nadal is on the brink, up a break at 4-2 in the fourth.

PHOTOS FROM THE MEN'S FINAL

Game 5: Nadal holds at love for 3-2. All the momentum’s in his corner, but Djokovic is still very much in this thing. He forced a fifth set a year ago in the semis by winning a fourth-set tiebreak.

Game 4: Djokovic grinds out a hold as he continues to appear to struggle with his energy. We’re still on serve at 2-2.

Game 3: Djokovic manages a 15-30 edge, but Nadal reels off the next three points to hold for 2-1.

Game 2: NBC just aired a super slo-mo shot of some sort of spit-up thing a clearly struggling Djokovic emitted. Never like to see a player struggling with health, but it’s part of the game. We sometimes take these guys’ incredible durability for granted. Meanwhile, Djokovic fights through it hold for 1-1. Does he have anything left in the tank to make this interesting?

Game 1: Nadal is in the zone now. An easy hold to start the fourth up 1-0.

Game 8: Now it’s Djokovic’s turn to look on the way to a simple hold onto to wind up at deuce. Nadal plays more incredible defense and earns himself an easy backhand winner to get to set point. Djokovic then sprays a forehand long and Nadal is very quickly just one set away from a ninth French Open title.

Game 7: Nadal appears on the way to an easy hold at 40-15, but Djokovic rips a return winner to make it 40-30, and the dogfight is on. He wins the next point for deuce. After the fourth deuce, Djokovic earns a break point, but Nadal saves it with a confident net approach and drop shot. Nadal wins the next two points, finishing with some fantastic defense, and salvages the hold to keep the edge in the set. 5-2, Rafa.

Game 6: Straightforward hold for Djokovic is capped by an ace out wide. 4-2, Nadal.

Game 5: Well, maybe this is it. Djokovic gets a 15-30 edge on Nadal’s serve, then ends up at deuce. Nadal can’t handle a heavy cross-court backhand and suddenly here’s a chance for the Serb to break his way back into the set. Nadal wins the ensuing rally for deuce, then takes the next two points, finishing on an emphatic forehand. 4-1, Nadal.

Game 4: Easy hold for Djoker, but he’ll have to come up with something special to get back in this set. 3-1, Nadal.

SERENA'S GRAND SLAM WINS

Game 3: Nadal finishes off a hold at love when ace up the middle. He’s moved to another level now. 3-0.

Game 2: A long rally at 30-30 culminates with a Nadal overhead smash winner to earn an early break point in the set. Djokovic serves it in, then comes to net. Nadal’s return floats right to him, but Djokovic pushes a backhand volley attempt into the net. Nadal nabs the edge early, 2-0.

Game 1: Nadal opens with the serve after the emotional end to the second set, and comes out ready to seize control of the match. Djokovic plays some sloppy shots and Nadal secures the opening hold. 1-0.

Game 12: Djokovic looks sloppy out of the gate in this crucial game. He falls behind 15-40 to give Nadal two looks at a set point. Some excellent defense on the next point keeps Nadal in it, then he rips a powerful forehand off a short ball to clinch it. 7-5, Nadal, and we’re level at one set all.

Game 11: Nadal has his best service game of the match, holding at love for 6-5. Djokovic will serve for a tiebreak.

Game 10: Nadal wins two points in the game — both with excellent shots — but Djokovic takes care of business and holds for 5-5.

Game 9: Easy enough hold for Nadal. He leads 5-4 as the second set winds to a conclusion.

Game 8: Djokovic starts 30-0 and looks headed for an easy hold, but Nadal reels off three straight points to get another look at a break. Djokovic saves it, then wins the next two points to hold for 4-4.

Game 7: Nadal falls behind 15-30 on his serve, then double faults to give Djokovic two chances to break right back. He saves the first, but Djokovic gets the second. So much for Nadal’s edge. Back on serve in the second.

Game 6: For the first time in the set, Nadal earns a break point against Djokovic’s serve. After a long rally, Nadal appears to catch the line for a winner and a break, but Djokovic appeals to chair umpire Pascal Maria, who checks the mark and calls it out. We’re at deuce. Djokovic wins the next point, but Nadal kicks it up to another level and takes the next two with some crisp hitting. Another break chance. On the next rally, Nadal runs around a forehand and hits it beautifully. Djokovic’s return effort goes into the net. 4-2, Nadal.

Game 5: Strong, quick hold from Nadal to take a 3-2 edge. Remember he also lost the first set of his quarterfinal match against David Ferrer before bouncing back for a four-set win.

Game 4: Another very routine hold for Djokovic to make it 2-2. Nadal needs to find another gear somewhere along the way here.

Game 3: Djokovic challenges Nadal a bit, getting to 30-30, but Nadal finishes a long rally in style and fires another tough body serve to hold for 2-1.

Game 2: Easy hold for Djokovic. Very clear where the momentum is right now.

Game 1: Djokovic is getting himself into just about every Nadal service point, but for now at least, Nadal restores some order with a hold to start the second set. 1-0, Rafa.

Game 9: Nadal shows some of his patented fight, winning the first two points — and nearly the first three — on Djokovic’s serve thanks to some dogged hustle. Djokovic floats a shot long and it’s 15-40. Two straight errors from Nadal trying to run around shots to his forehand side salt away both of the break chances. Djokovic fires a strong serve to set up a winner and comes to set point. A huge cross-court forehand is too much for Nadal to get back and just like that, Djokovic is up a set in the French Open final. 

Game 8: At last, our first break chance comes as Djokovic jumps out 15-40 on Nadal’s serve. Nadal curls a gorgeous forehand right up and off the line to save the first. A strong serve into the body jams Djokovic for a free point on the second and we’re at deuce. Djokovic fires an audacious forehand up the line for a winner on the deuce point, then coaxes a forehand error from Nadal on the next point to secure the break. Suddenly, Djokovic will serve for the first set. He leads 5-3.

Game 7: After digging into a 15-30 hole, Djokovic finds himself at deuce — our first deuce of the match. Djokovic wins two straight to stay on serve and keep the edge in the set. 4-3.

Game 6: Nadal shakes off the second perfect drop shot of the young match from Djokovic for another quick hold. 3-3.

Game 5: The point of the match so far comes at 30-15, when Djokovic finishes off a long rally with a backpedaling forehand winner. An ace on the next point gives him another easy hold as we stay on serve at 3-2.

Game 4: Djokovic gets to 30-30, but then gets a little overzealous on a backhand rip that smacks into the net. Nadal finishes off the game on the next point for 2-2.

Game 3: The rallies get a little longer on Djokovic’s second service game, but it’s another straightforward hold to open this highly anticipated match. It was just last year that Djokovic pushed Nadal to a 9-7 fifth set in the semifinals.

Game 2: Nadal holds at love for 1-1 as both players get settled in on a warm, sunny day in Paris.

Game 1: Djokovic opens with the serve and looks sharp to start, landing four of five first serves and getting an easy hold at love to nab the opening lead.