Rain forces final into Monday
Jun 11 2012
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will have to come back to Roland Garros on Monday to complete their French Open final after rain forced play to be abandoned for the day with the Spaniard leading 6-4 6-3 2-6 1-2 in Paris.
Almost all the match had been played in light rain but conditions became increasingly slippery and an angry Nadal had been calling for the match to be suspended for some time before they finally went off just before 7pm.
The 26-year-old, who is bidding for a record seventh title at Roland Garros, looked to be cruising at two sets and a break ahead on the stage he has made his own. But Djokovic, for whom victory would bring a fourth straight grand slam title and sporting immortality, hit back with a stunning run of eight straight games to lead by a break in the fourth.
Despite being world number one and beating Nadal in three successive grand slam finals, Djokovic was the underdog and what he definitely did not need was to lose the first three games, including two on his own serve. But helped by some uncharacteristic Nadal errors, back he came, levelling at 3-3, only to give his serve away immediately on a double fault.
The quality was high from both men now despite the drizzle, the ball taking a pounding as they slugged it out in brutal baseline rallies, but Nadal maintained his advantage, clinching the set with a vicious forehand winner.
Djokovic found himself under pressure again at the start of the second set, and for the second time in the match he double-faulted on break point. Djokovic battled back, though, deceiving his opponent with his third brilliant lob of the match, only to be broken again as Nadal drilled a rapier-like forehand cross-court for 4-3.
After one more Nadal hold the rain got too much and the players came off, but they were back on inside half an hour and it took the second seed only moments to move two sets ahead, a trademark backhand pass earning him a sixth break.
Djokovic then broke the Nadal serve not once but twice to lead 3-2 in the third. Suddenly it was Djokovic finding a way to win the long points and remarkably he made it six games in a row to win the set and give himself a chance of a momentous victory.
Nadal used the changeover to complain about the conditions but he did not get his own way, and the first game of the fourth set was another lengthy one marked by an epic 45-shot rally that Djokovic won. He won the game too, a seventh in a row, with a backhand pass and there was no sign that the change in momentum was about to be reversed.
Nadal then held serve to make it 2-1 and end his eight-game losing streak, and at that point play was again suspended.
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