Novak Djokovic Completes Career Grand Slam, Wins French Open
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
In Paris, at the French Open, Novak Djokovic claimed a piece of history yesterday. In defeating Andy Murray in the men's finals, he became the first player since Rod Laver almost 50 years ago - got to hold all four major men's grand slam tennis titles at once. We've got Courtney Nguyen on the line from Paris. She's senior writer with WTA Insider there. And thanks for joining us.
COURTNEY NGUYEN: No problem.
MONTAGNE: So an historic win for Djokovic. Was it as convincing to watch this all play out on the court?
NGUYEN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, Novak Djokovic, the number-one player in the world, has been now for, you know, quite some time, a couple years. And he never really looked threatened at all, not just here in Paris for these two weeks marching towards the title here, but really in the last four grand slams which he's now won. He's only been pushed to five sets twice - otherwise has gone through really convincingly. And each time in these four grand slams that he's won, he's beaten the number-two player in the world. And that's not something that we're used to seeing, you know, this level of dominance.
MONTAGNE: Although besides the grand slam, I mean, for him, just winning the French Open was an achievement because it's taken Djokovic 12 years.
NGUYEN: Absolutely. There have been demons here in Paris for Novak Djokovic, who, at this point, he's seemingly eclipsed Rafael Nadal, who is a nine-time champion here in Paris, as the most dominant player on clay. And yet, he would come to Paris, he would knock on the door, play some great tennis and get absolutely derailed really unexpectedly. And last year in particular, it looked everything was set up for him. And he ran into Stanislas Wawrinka, who absolutely just played the match of his life to win the final. So now he finally has it. And you can see the relief on his face, you know, three, four, five hours later.
MONTAGNE: Well, as I just said, the last male player to win the gland grand slam was Rod Laver back in 1969. Why has it taken so long for someone to do that again?
NGUYEN: Well, it's just - it's a tough task to just complete to win four consecutive majors. There's so many things that go into winning a grand slam. And it's, of course, being the best player over the course of the two weeks. But even managing a lot of bad luck, a lot of things that aren't in your control, you know, such as the weather we had in Paris this year, which was absolutely crazy just how cold and rainy it's been, you know, in June here in Paris.
But also, just - yeah, it's a difficult feat. So for the men, best of five sets, you know, four consecutive grand slams, three different surfaces, it's tough. It just is. It's one of the toughest feats in sports.
MONTAGNE: Well, is it safe to say now that he's out of the shadow of the two most recent greats in men's tennis, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal?
NGUYEN: Well, in a lot of ways, he's staking out his own claim. And Novak Djokovic is doing something - he absolutely is in the shadow of those two men simply because he's the third, you know, great player to play in this era. But he's doing things that those two men have never done. And so here winning four consecutive majors, Roger and Rafa have never done that.
The excellence that he shows on the tour level, winning a lot of the biggest tournaments that are outside of the grand slams on the ATP World Tour, he's doing it at a clip that we've never seen before. So just this level of dominance - the point gap that he's established between him at number one and number two Andy Murray - it is massive as well. This is just an unprecedented level of domination.
MONTAGNE: Well, thank you very much for joining us.
NGUYEN: No problem, anytime.
MONTAGNE: Speaking to us from Paris at the French Open, Courtney Nguyen is senior writer with WTA Insider. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.