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Djokovic conquers Ruud at French Open to win record 23rd Grand Slam title

The Serbian earned a 7-6(1) 6-3 7-5 victory over fourth seed Casper Ruud in the final match of the 2023 competition.

• June 11, 2023
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic [Photo Credit: Tennis World]

Novak Djokovic won a record 23rd Grand Slam singles title at the French Open on Sunday to stand alone at the summit of men’s tennis.

This was after he earned a 7-6(1) 6-3 7-5 victory over fourth seed Casper Ruud in the final match of the 2023 competition.

The 36-year-old Serb drew level with Rafa Nadal on 22 by capturing the Australian Open title in January.

He then leapfrogged the injured King of Clay in his own backyard to claim his third Roland Garros title after triumphs in 2016 and 2021.

On a historic day on Court Philippe Chatrier, Djokovic won his 21st consecutive Grand Slam tournament match to become the only man to bag each of the four majors.

These are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open, and he has won each at least three times.

He also eclipsed Nadal as the oldest champion in Paris.

This was after a testing fortnight where he shrugged off a heated political row following his comments on Kosovo.

He then saw off the challenge of ailing top seed Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals.

What turned into a one-sided final got off to a shaky start for the Serb.

Djokovic struggled to find his range and rhythm early on and dropped his opening service game.

Fourth seed Ruud made a solid start in his bid to secure a first win over the Serbian in his fifth attempt by blazing away to a 4-1 lead.

Ruud, runner-up to Nadal in Paris last year and Alcaraz at the US Open, pegged Djokovic back with his monster forehands.

But he missed an overhead shot at the net allowing his opponent to break back and eventually level at 4-4.

Football superstars Kylian Mbappe and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were among a packed stadium that roared its approval when Ruud volleyed home a winner after a superb “tweener”.

Djokovic took a tumble earlier and was clearly feeling the heat and humidity at 5-6.

He ranted at the umpire over what he perceived to be quick starts of the clock at change-overs.

But he regained composure to force a tie-break which he dominated.

He broke early in the second set, showing vintage form when he started to put the squeeze on his opponent.

World number four Ruud’s dreams of a maiden major then appeared to fade fast as Djokovic doubled his advantage in the contest.

Djokovic served himself out of trouble to level at 4-4 and hit two aces to make it 5-5 in the third set.

He then set up three break-points with a fiery cross-court winner before edging ahead with a backhand rocket.

Having got his nose in front, Djokovic closed out the win in another strong service game on his second championship point.

He then dropped to the clay before soaking up the applause.

The Serb continued his celebrations by climbing up to his players’ box and shared hugs with his family.

He then sported a specially-made jacket with the number 23 displayed on it, just like he did at Melbourne Park with 22.

Victory meant Djokovic has won the first two Grand Slams in a year for a third time after similar runs in 2016 and 2021.

“Many congrats on this amazing achievement @DjokerNole,” 14-times Roland Garros champion Nadal tweeted.

“23 is a number that just a few years back was impossible to think about, and you made it! Enjoy it with your family and team.”

(Reuters/NAN)

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