Britain's Andy Murray paid tribute to the majesty of rival Novak Djokovic after the world No1 completed a career grand slam by claiming his maiden French Open title on the clay of Paris.
Despite winning the first set in some style, Murray succumbed 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 as Djokovic became the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four slams at the same time. It was also the 12th major title of the Serbian’s career.
The 29-year-old is only the eighth man in history to win all four slams and has remainded on course to match Laver’s achievement of winning all four in a calendar year, having triumphed at the Australian Open in January.
“This is Novak’s day and what he has achieved in the last 12 months is phenomenal. Winning all four of the grand slams in one year is an amazing achievement,” said Murray.
“It’s not happened for an extremely long time and it’s going to take a long time for it to happen again. Everyone who came here to watch is extremely lucky to see it.
“For me, being on the opposite side it sucks to lose the match, but I’m proud to have been a part of today. Congratulations to Novak.”
Top seed Djokovic, who is the second oldest man in history to complete the career grand slam, celebrated victory by emulating three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten by drawing a heart in the clay with his racquet.
“It’s a very special moment, the biggest of my career,” said Djokovic. “I felt today something that I never felt before at Roland Garros, I felt the love of the crowd.
“I drew the heart on the court, like Guga [Gustavo Kuerten], which he gave me permission to do. My heart will always be with you on this court.”
Murray was the first British man in 79 years to reach the final at Roland Garros, although the Scot’s eighth grand slam final defeat meant the wait for a winner – Fred Perry was the last to achieve such a feat in 1936 – goes on.
Five of those losses in a final have now come against Djokovic, but Murray hinted at a more prosperous outcome this time around by reeling off victories in four consecutive games in a composed first set.
Murray had never lost a match at Roland Garros having won the set but things unravelled after failing to convert a break point in the first game of the second. Djokovic then assumed control with devastating effect.
Djokovic, who has now won 13 of the duo’s past 15 meetings, continued to press and refused to relinquish any command on proceedings, while any fleeting Murray resistance withered.