Novak Djokovic Sets Record For French Open Titles
Novak Djokovic is the oldest champion of the French Open singles after he got his record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam men’s singles title.
The Serbian tennis player beat Norwegian Casper Ruud 7-6 (1), 6-3, 7-5 in Sunday’s final at the 2023 Roland Garros tournament. The 36-year-old breaks the record he shared with Rafael Nadal, as he also broke Nadal’s record as the oldest French Open singles champion.
“Another day, another record for you,” Ruud said in his runner-up speech. “This tastes probably the best out of all.”
Djokovic joins three women who won all four tennis majors at least three times by becoming the first man to ever do it. This elite class includes the likes of Serena Williams, Steffi Graf and Margaret Court.
A week of sports news in your in-box.
We find the sports news you need to know, so you don't have to.
Prior to this, Djokovic beat Nadal’s record for reaching the quarterfinals 17 times in the French Open, now surpassing him further. His victory speech was in French, as Djokovic mentioned that it was special to break the record at the major that has been the most difficult for him to win.
“I waited for this moment and worked really, really hard to eventually get a shot at the historic Grand Slam title,” he said. “I’m obviously overwhelmed with most beautiful emotions at the moment but also huge relief because so much tension, so much intensity, so much, I guess, pressure and expectations.”
In 2007, Roger Federer defeated Djokovic in the U.S. Open during the Grand Slam final, and that stuck with the current French Open champion, as he noted that time was on his side as he sought to improve his game to eventually beat former Swiss tennis player Federer (age 41) and Spanish tennis player Nadal (age 37).
“I have said it before many times that they have actually defined me as a player, and all the success that I have, they have contributed to it, in a way, because of the rivalries and the matchups that we had,” he said. “Those two guys were occupying my mind for the last 15 years quite a lot. In a professional sense.”
After Sunday’s final, Djokovic’s coach, 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, took a line from 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick.
“[Djokovic] takes the legs, then he takes your soul, then he digs your grave and you have a funeral and you’re dead,” Ivanisevic said.
This has been a long journey for Djokovic to get here, as he won his first major at the 2008 Australian Open, to then win ten more Australian Open titles, breaking a record. But there was a gap in time between his first and second major, as it took another three years.
In 2011, Djokovic heated up, as he won 22 of his last 46 major starts and fended off up-and-coming young stars like 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, who suffered full-body cramps against Djokovic in Friday’s semifinals. This is what facing a Grand Slam king like Djokovic can do to a younger or less experienced tennis player.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) June 11, 2023
The rivalry and competitiveness between Djokovic against Nadal are unmatched, as both are one of one or, in this case, one of two or three. Other than Djokovic or Nadal, no one has more than three major titles, and no man, younger than 36, has more than one major title.
Federer is definitely in the mix between those two, as he retired with 20 titles in 2022. Nadal is a record 14-time French Open champion, as 2024 may be his last year. Due to a hip injury that required surgery, Nadal missed this year’s French Open and will also miss Wimbledon and the U.S. Open later this summer.
Nadal posted on social media five minutes after Djokovic was in a position most familiar to Nadal, on his back on the red clay of Court Philippe Chatrier in a championship celebration and said this:
“23 is a number that just a few years back was impossible to think about, and you made it!”
Djokovic has won the first two majors in the year for the third time, as he could possibly looking forward to a calendar Grand Slam. Only German woman’s tennis player Graf has ever accomplished winning all four majors in one year in the last 50 years.
“Truth of the matter is, and reality is, my body is responding differently, so I have to deal with more things physically than I have had maybe in the past,” Djokovic said. “Maybe five to ten years ago I was recovering much quicker or just didn’t feel as much pain in the body and the beating that I’m feeling today.”
With Wimbledon coming up in July, Djokovic will likely be the heavy favorite, as the Serbian won it four times in a row and seven times overall. He is one away from Federer’s men’s records there for total titles and consecutive titles.
If Djokovic can accomplish a calendar Grand Slam, he would break the overall record for major singles titles. At the moment, he is now tied with women tennis players Williams (American) and one less than Court (Australian).
“I don’t want to say that I am the greatest because I feel, I’ve said it before, it’s disrespectful towards all the great champions in different eras of our sport that were played in a completely different way than it is played today,” Djokovic said. “I leave those kinds of discussions of who is the greatest to someone else.”
Leave a comment
Get the most-revealing celebrity conversations with the uInterview podcast!