History on Dirt
It was a terrible competitive moment for Novak Djokovic, the world's No. 1 ranked tennis player.
And probably the one moment in which we hackers, those of us who play and compete at local clubs and as weekend warriors, might have felt a kinship with such an outstanding player.
Facing match point today against red clay master Rafael Nadal in Paris as the French Open final stretched into a second day because of rain, Djokovic set up to serve at 30-40.
His first attempt sailed long. So did his second. Double fault, with game, set and match to Nadal.
Not the way you want to go down.
It's not exactly unthinkable in tennis. A double-fault happens once in a blue moon on match point when players get tight. But not usually to the stars of the sport like Djokovic, who in failing to force Nadal to play out the point to win his record seventh Roland Garros title, also ruined his own opportunity for a career Grand Slam and the chance to register the distinction of being the first player to hold all four titles at the same time since Rod Laver more than four decades ago.
So there was pressure on both players, with conditions varying even today between rainy and sunny. But Djokovic must have felt it more, squandering a lead in the fourth set and then being broken again in the deciding game as Nadal won 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5. Incredibly, Nadal has only lost one match ever at the French Open, and his reputation as the greatest clay court player in history seems secure after he vaulted past the great Bjorn Borg with his seventh win.
Nadal, bitterly disappointed when they stopped the match on Sunday night in Paris because of rain even though it appeared at the time Djokovic had grabbed control of the match after losing the first two sets, vaulted into the stands after his historic triumph and was mobbed by family members and friends, including countryman Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was the first French Open men's final since 1973 extended to Monday, and both players walked out unsure whether they'd be out there for 20 minutes or two hours.
It turned out to be less than a hour, although both came out firing, unlike the previous day when one was hitting cleanly and the other scuffling all over the court, and then they switched. Nadal broke Djokovic's serve in the first game back on court, held serve himself four times before finishing off his Serbian opponent.
It wasn't a classic, but more of an unusual, stop-and-start conclusion to the world's most prestigious clay court even.
Now the men, and the women, head to England the lawns of the All-England Club for the granddaddy of 'em all, Wimbledon in two weeks, with Djokovic as defending champion.