Novak Djokovic has always kept Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the benchmark for his inspiration. On another Sunday final in Paris, his seventh, Djokovic finally surpassed his great rivals in the most significant category of all as he defeated Casper Ruud 7-6 (1), 6-3, 7-5 in the French Open 2023 Final to clinch his 23rd grand slam title. This historic victory means that Djokovic is now the men's sole grand slam record-holder alongside countless other records.
Read also: Laureus Sport Awards 2023: List of Winners
Novak Djokovic also now has three titles in Paris. No other man has ever won each grand slam tournament twice, but Djokovic is now the first to do so three times. He will also return to No 1 for a record-extending 388th week as the best player in the world.
Djokovic is now the oldest Roland Garros singles champion in history at 36 years and 20 days. He has also won the last three grand slam tournaments he has contested. Few people gave Ruud, the fourth seed, much of a realistic chance against the third seed Djokovic, but one helpful factor in his favour was the experience of contesting the French and US Open finals last season against Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz, with the Norwegian offering himself chances in the latter.
Ruud started the match utterly vaporising his forehand, which sounded like a cannon in the acoustics of Court Philippe Chatrier. Ruud also mixed in smart drop shots and he confidently closed down the net. Djokovic started the match poorly as Ruud quickly took an early 3-0 lead.
Djokovic dug in and he relied on his legs as he soaked up a series of stinging Ruud forehands before drawing out an overhead error from Ruud to retrieve the break. Ruud kept his head up. The decisive moment of the match came while he led 5-4 with Djokovic serving. At 5-4, 30-30, Ruud gifted a forehand error on an easy second serve return. Sensing Ruud's nerves, Djokovic pounced. He held serve, he forced a tiebreak and then he picked Ruud's weak backhand apart to take the set.
Djokovic continued to methodically break down Ruud's backhand as he neutralised the Norwegian's serve. Djokovic controlled the contest until the end, patiently waiting for his moment to clinch the decisive break late in the third set before closing out one of the greatest successes of his career.
After most of Djokovic's grand slam wins, an old interview from his youth goes viral. Asked about his goals in the sport, a six-year-old Djokovic stated that his goal is to be the No 1 in the world. While ranking and grand slam titles used to be the ultimate goal, that fading, special era with Djokovic, Serena Williams, Nadal, and Federer has completely changed how people view success in the sport.