Rafael Nadal Wins French Open On Novak Djokovic's Double Fault, Restoring Balance To Tennis's Best Rivalry

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The conditions were better, the courts were (mostly) drier and the power and topspin returned to Rafael Nadal's game. It took Nadal less than an hour today to break Djokovic's serve twice and win the fourth set, 7-5, continuing yesterday's suspended match and take his seventh French Open.

This is a huge win. Tennis's new rivalry needed it. The Nadal-Djokovic rivalry was heading in one not-so-encouraging direction: Djokovic was all dominant. He had beaten Rafa in three consecutive Grand Slam finals. He had taken seven out of their last nine matches together. Rafa has previously admitted that Djokovic had gotten in his head—possibly the first player ever to do that.


And then yesterday, with Rafa finally dominating in a Grand Slam final, Djokovic reeled off eight straight games in the third/beginning-of-the-fourth set. Against Nadal. On clay. It looked as if we were in Greg Norman '96 Masters territory. Then they finally called the match due to rain, and Rafa benefited from the better conditions today (and god knows what lecture from Uncle Toni overnight).

And how did the match end? With a gut-punching double fault. Djokovic's double was all the more shocking coming from the guy who saved match points against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last week, just like he did against Federer the year before in the U.S. Open semifinals, just like he did the year before that. Maybe Nadal had gotten in his head.