PARIS • Novak Djokovic captured a first French Open at the 12th time of asking yesterday, becoming just the third man in history to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.
The world No. 1 downed old rival Andy Murray 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to claim a 12th career Major and join Don Budge in 1938 and Rod Laver, in 1962 and 1969, as the only players to simultaneously possess the French Open, Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon trophies.
Djokovic, 29, also put himself halfway to the calendar Grand Slam, last achieved by Laver 47 years ago.
But he did it the hard way as the final reached its conclusion, being broken in the eighth game of the fourth set as he served for the title and then squandering two championship points in the 10th before he sealed victory when Murray netted a backhand.
Victory also allowed Djokovic to stretch his winning record over 29-year-old Murray to 24-10 overall and 8-2 in Grand Slams.
But the Serb was horribly out of sorts with his 13 unforced errors nearly proving fatal.
The world No. 1 had to shake off a break point in the opening game of the second set before Murray obligingly imploded, dropping serve to fall 0-2 behind.
Djokovic misread the geometry on a drop shot which would have given him a double break in the fourth game but he was soon 4-1 to the good.
The top seed remained ruthlessly dialled-in, broke again for 5-1 and levelled the final when Murray dumped a service return into the net.
In the third set, the Serb saved four break points to go to 5-1 before securing the set against a weary-looking Murray, who had spent five hours longer on court than Djokovic and played two five-setters in the opening rounds to get to his first French Open final.
In the fourth, the Serb broke to love for 5-2 and history was just moments away. However, there was still time for a twist as he cracked when serving for the title before finally sealing the triumph after three hours on court.