Novak Djokovic created history on Sunday when he captured a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam title with a third French Open triumph, reinforcing his case to be crowned the greatest player of all time.
The 36-year-old Serb overcame an early stutter to upset Norway’s Casper Ruud 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, 7-5 and break his 22-Slam tie with longtime rival Rafael Nadal.
Victory in Paris for the third time, after 2016 and 2021, adds to his ten Australian Open titles, seven Wimbledon titles, and three US Open titles.
Djokovic is the only guy to have won all four majors at least three times, and he is now halfway to completing the first calendar Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.
Only Margaret Court and Serena Williams have won 23 Grand Slam titles in women’s tennis. Court’s all-time record of 24 will now be a target for him at Wimbledon next month.
Djokovic shows no signs of slowing down. He is now the oldest French Open champion, but 11 of his Slam titles have come after the age of 30.
On Monday, he will retake the world number one place and begin his 388th week at the top.
The feeling of occasion on Sunday undoubtedly drew sports celebrities.
NFL veteran Tom Brady sat in Djokovic’s box, while football sensations Kylian Mbappe and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sat next to each other in the VIP area, which also housed former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who is a regular this weekend.
Djokovic was playing in his seventh French Open final and boasted a 4-0 career record over Ruud, not having lost a single set.
However, the fourth-ranked Norwegian was the more composed of the two at the start, sprinting out of the blocks for a 2-0 lead when Djokovic shanked an overhead.
Ruud, the 2022 runner-up to Nadal, stretched to 3-0 and 4-1 before Djokovic retrieved the break in the seventh game when his opponent buried an easy smash into the net with an open court begging.
It came at the end of a lung-busting 28-shot rally.
Djokovic missed a break point in the ninth game, tumbling to the red clay as he chased down a Ruud drive.
His frustration boiled over when he angrily accused umpire Damien Dumusois of rushing the players between changeovers on a heavy, humid afternoon in the French capital.
Fired up, he then raced through the tiebreak, sealing the opener with a running forehand.
Tellingly, that was Djokovic’s sixth tiebreak at this French Open and in none of them had he committed a single unforced error in the 55 points contested.
Despite being Djokovic’s junior by 12 years, Ruud, who also lost the 2022 US Open final to Carlos Alcaraz, suddenly looked spent.
Djokovic broke for 2-0 in the second set and despite Ruud saving two set points in the eighth game, the Serb moved closer to his dream.
Ruud saved a break point in the third game of the third set before Djokovic was hit with a warning for taking too long between points.
But he wasn’t thrown out of his stride.
Djokovic broke for love at 6-5 and sealed his place in history when Ruud went wide.