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Djokovic on top in Grand Slam title race after beating Ruud at Roland Garros

Novak Djokovic, for the first time in his career, is the solo leader in men’s singles major titles.

Djokovic his 23rd Grand Slam on Sunday afternoon–passing Rafael Nadal–by beating Casper Ruud 7-6(1), 6-3, 7-5 in the Roland Garros final. It is the 36-year-old’s third French Open title, preceded by victories in 2016 and 2021.

“Another day, another record for you,” Ruud told Djokovic during the trophy ceremony. “And another day you rewrite tennis history, once again. It’s tough to explain how incredible it is and how good you are…. I know this one probably tastes the best out of all.”

But the 24-year-old Norwegian did not make it easy for Djokovic. Ruud made the first set especially interesting, leading by a break and ultimately forcing it to a tiebreaker. He never really went away even after losing some early momentum, but for the most part it was one-way traffic and Djokovic cruised to victory in three hours and 13 minutes.

“I think I started well, and then unfortunately stumbled on the break back there at 4-2 (in the first set),” Ruud reflected. “Novak is just not human sometimes; it’s scary how well he can play. I’m a bit disappointed that I let him get away in the second set, and then I just did my best from there. But what else can you do? He had all the answers; he was just too good.”

“Obviously a Grand Slam is a Grand Slam–the four biggest tournaments we have in the history of our sport,” Djokovic said. “Every single player dreams of being on this stage and winning the trophy at least once in their career. I am beyond fortunate in my life to win 23 times Grand Slams. It’s an incredible feeling.

“I worked really hard to get a shot at this historic Grand Slam title. I’m obviously overwhelmed with emotion.”

Djokovic, Ruud, and the rest of the tour now head to the grass season–which culminates with Wimbledon starting on July 3. Halfway to the calendar-year slam, Djokovic is an especially big favorite at the AELTC–having lifted the trophy on the lawn of SW19 four straight times.

“Let me enjoy this success first, but definitely Wimbledon and U.S. Open are the big goals,” the Serb assured. “Those are the two big ones until the end of the season where I really want to do well…. I want to carry this into London, but I’ll enjoy [this one] first.”

In 2021, Djokovic won the first three slams of the season and came within one win of the CYGS but lost to Daniil Medvedev in the U.S. Open final.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.