Novak Djokovic forged a new frontier in men’s tennis Sunday at Roland Garros, where the Serbian great defeated Casper Ruud 7-6(1), 6-3, 7-5 to claim a record 23rd major title.
Djokovic overcame a strong start from Ruud on Court Philippe-Chatrier to seal his historic victory. The third seed delivered a high-class tie-break display to claim a first set in which he had trailed 1-4 before producing some of his purest hitting of the fortnight in the second and third en route to a three-hour, 13-minute triumph.
“Obviously a Grand Slam is a Grand Slam,” said Djokovic at the trophy ceremony. “The four biggest tournaments that we have in our sport. Every single player dreams of being on this stage and winning the trophy at least once in their career. I’m beyond fortunate in my life to win 23 times, it’s an incredible feeling.”
With his win, the three-time Roland Garros titlist Djokovic also reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings from Carlos Alcaraz, eclipsed Rafael Nadal as the oldest Roland Garros champion at the age of 36 years and 20 days and became the first man to win all four Grand Slam events at least three times.
With history on the line, an expectant crowd that included actor Hugh Grant, NFL legend Tom Brady (who sat in Djokovic’s player’s box) and football stars Kylian Mpabbe, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Olivier Giroud gathered in Paris, and the Serbian did not disappoint.
After nullifying Ruud’s early charge, Djokovic barely looked back on the way to extending his lead in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series to 5-0. He outhit the fourth seed by 52 winners to 31 while winning 80 per cent (59/74) of points behind his first serve.
Playing in his third championship match in the past five major tournaments, Ruud battled well but was unable to maintain his scintillating start. The 24-year-old, who also reached finals at Roland Garros and the US Open in 2022, did not win more than two points in a return game after 4-3 in the first set as Djokovic ruthlessly shut down his opponent’s efforts to rally.
“Another day, another record for you,” said Ruud, when addressing Djokovic at the trophy ceremony. “And another day you rewrite tennis history. It’s tough to explain how incredible it is and how good you are, and what an inspiration you are to so many people around the world.
“Congratulations to you and your team. I know this tastes probably the best out of all [of your major titles]… I’m happy I’m the first one to congratulate you here, from this stage.”