Djokovic conquers Roland Garros to join tennis pantheon

Sun Jun 5, 2016 4:40pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

PARIS (Reuters) - After years of near misses, Novak Djokovic finally conquered mount Roland Garros on Sunday to win the one trophy he craved like no other -- a maiden French Open title that elevated him into the pantheon of tennis greats.

It was a trophy he had failed to hoist in 11 previous visits to Paris. It was a trophy that was flaunted in front of his face in 2012, 2014 and 2015, only he was not allowed to touch it after finishing runner-up in the three finals

On Sunday, the Musketeers' Cup was his at last as he broke Andy Murray's resistance with a 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory that not only completed his grand slam collection but also made him the first man in nearly half a century to hold all four majors at once.

After such an emotional win, the world number one thanked the fans who had serenaded him with chants of "No-le, No-le, No-le, No-le" throughout the three-hour battle by recreating one of the most famous celebrations seen at Roland Garros.

A la Gustavo Kuerten in 2001, Djokovic drew a giant love-heart into the red clay with his racket before collapsing into the middle of it -- an x-shaped emblem of triumph.

"It's a very special moment, the biggest of my career," Djokovic told the crowd, which included the much-loved Brazilian champion, after capturing his 12th grand slam title.

"I felt today something that I never felt before at Roland Garros, I felt the love of the crowd, I drew the heart on the court, like Guga which he gave me permission to do. My heart will always be with you on this court."

Winning the four majors -- Wimbledon, U.S. Open, Australian Open and the French Open -- in a row is a feat that is so difficult that it had not been achieved by a man since Rod Laver won the second of his calendar Grand Slams in 1969.   Continued...

Tennis - French Open Mens Singles Final match - Roland Garros - Novak Djokovic of Serbia vs Andy Murray of Britain - Paris, France - 05/06/16.  Novak Djokovic celebrates with ball girls. REUTERS/Nicolas Gouhier/FFT/Pool