Djokovic’s 27-match Slam streak ends against Nadal

Moments after his rain-interrupted French Open final against

Rafael Nadal resumed Monday, Novak Djokovic netted a forehand and

punished himself by smacking his racket strings against the side of

his head three times.

A day earlier, Djokovic cracked his racket against his green

sideline bench, sending a piece of the furniture flying.

Bidding to become the first man in 43 years to win four

consecutive Grand Slam championships, the No. 1-ranked Djokovic

instead wound up one victory shy, frustrated and beaten by the No.

2-ranked Nadal 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 in a two-day title match at

Roland Garros.

Djokovic’s 27-match winning streak at major tournaments ended in

his debut in a Paris final. Nadal was playing in his seventh final

at Roland Garros; he’s won every one, giving him a record seven

trophies at the French Open, one more than Bjorn Borg.

”I managed to come to the finals for the first time in my

career. I should be happy about that, of course. I will be and I

am,” Djokovic said. ”But in this moment I am disappointed about

this loss.”

Only Don Budge in 1938, and Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969, won four

Grand Slam trophies in succession.

Djokovic won Wimbledon in July, the U.S. Open in September, and

the Australian Open in January – beating Nadal in each final.

They’re the first two men to meet in four straight major finals,

and this time, Nadal came out on top, improving his career record

at the French Open to 52-1.

”He’s definitely (the) best player in history … on this

surface,” said Djokovic, ”and results are showing that he’s one

of the best ever.”

On Sunday, at the start, Nadal was at his court-covering,

shot-whipping best, while Djokovic was so-so. Once the showers grew

stronger, the court became more slippery, and the tennis balls more

heavy and clay-streaked, it was Djokovic who handled the conditions

better, pushing around Nadal and reeling off eight consecutive

games.

That allowed Djokovic to win the third set – the first one

dropped by Nadal in the tournament – and go ahead a break at 2-0 in

the fourth. But at 2-1, play was halted for the day. So was

Djokovic’s momentum.

Djokovic didn’t want to blame his loss on the decision to

suspend play Sunday night. Nadal overwhelmed him Monday, winning

six of the nine games they played when action resumed.

”It’s unfortunate, because I think I was playing better and I

was feeling really well on the court,” Djokovic said. ”Today he

started off really strong. I started a bit slower.”

On Monday, Nadal broke Djokovic right away to get to 2-2. They

stayed on serve until Nadal led 6-5. With Djokovic trying to force

a tiebreaker, he double-faulted on match point.

After so many escapes earlier in the tournament – overcoming a

two-set deficit against Andreas Seppi in the fourth round, then

erasing four match points against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the

quarterfinals – Djokovic was done.

So was his Grand Slam streak.

”Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. I lost this time,”

Djokovic said. ”But I believe that there are still many years to

come, and hopefully I can come back stronger.”