Djokovic's latest fightback halted by rain following Nadal hurricane

Bruising final finishes today with world No 1 2-1 down after smashing his racket in anger

Roland Garros

They are planning to put a roof over Court Philippe Chatrier within the next five years, but Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were last night regretting the fact that Roland Garros is behind the times in comparison with two of the three other Grand Slam tournaments. With rain falling on a damp and miserable afternoon, the French Open final was called off for the day with Nadal leading 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 1-2 after Djokovic had launched a typically spirited fightback. Weather permitting, the match will resume at 1pm today (midday BST).

Wimbledon and the Australian Open both have retractable roofs over their main show courts (Melbourne even has covers over two stadiums), but Roland Garros remains open to the elements. While rain is less of a problem on clay courts – the last time the men's final was not completed on Sunday here was in 1973, when it eventually finished on the Tuesday – the surface on Court Philippe Chatrier had become too slippery after persistent drizzle during the afternoon. Nadal in particular was unhappy about the state of the court and Stefan Fransen, the referee, eventually took the players off just before 7pm.

Considering there was so much at stake, it was the only sensible decision. For both players this final was a key moment in their careers. Djokovic was attempting to become the first man for 43 years to hold all four Grand Slam titles – only Don Budge in 1938 and Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969 have performed the feat – while Nadal was aiming to win the title here for the seventh time in eight years, taking him clear of Bjorn Borg.

Given the weather forecast – heavy rain had been predicted for yesterday, today and tomorrow – it was regrettable that the start time for the final had been set as late as 3pm. The morning and early afternoon had been dull and overcast, but it had remained dry. There was no sign of rain when the two men came on court, though it was decidedly cool, as it has been for most of the second week here.

Nadal was immediately into his stride, hitting a succession of huge forehands to prevent Djokovic finding any sort of rhythm and the world No 2 raced into a 3-0 lead with two breaks of serve.

If anyone was expected to benefit from the slow and damp conditions it was Nadal, but as the first drops of rain started to fall Djokovic began a mini- comeback, levelling the score at 3-3. The rain stopped momentarily – upon which Djokovic dropped his serve again. There had been five breaks in the first seven games.

Nadal (left) served out for the first set and immediately took command of the second, breaking for the fourth time in Djokovic's first six service games as the Serb struggled to get his first serve in court. Djokovic threw his racket to the floor in frustration after one point and hurled it at his seat, smashing an advertising hoarding and earning a code violation for racket abuse after Nadal broke yet again to lead 4-3.

By now the rain was falling again and with Nadal leading 5-3 the players were taken off court. As they entered the locker rooms, Nadal's door was shut gently while Djokovic's closed with a loud slam. When they resumed 33 minutes later, Nadal needed only five points to take the second set as he broke Djokovic for the sixth time.

Once again it was Nadal who made the early breakthrough in the third set. Djokovic had a break point in the opening game, but Nadal saved it with a smash after a thrilling exchange of big shots from the baseline. Djokovic had a look of despair on his face and his pain grew in the next game as Nadal broke to 15 to take a 2-0 lead.

Against any other player, especially on clay, you would have expected Nadal to close out a straight-sets victory, but Djokovic is one of the game's great fighters. As he showed by beating Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the last two US Opens when two match points down and by saving four match points against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals here four days ago, the world No 1 never knows when he is beaten.

Astonishingly, Djokovic went on to win the next eight games in succession. The Serb, appreciating that it was now or never, raised his game and started hitting the ball with more power. When he had tried to up the tempo earlier in the match he had made too many errors, but now his biggest blows were finding the corners and the lines.

Djokovic broke to 15 to begin his fightback, held serve to level at 2-2 and then played a superb game to break again. A huge forehand set up three break points, the second of which he converted when Nadal netted a forehand. At 4-2 he broke once again as Nadal missed two backhands in succession. Djokovic served out to love to take the set – the first Nadal has dropped here this year – in just 45 minutes, with the match clock showing two hours and 39 minutes.

Nadal, meanwhile, had become increasingly unhappy with the condition of the court, which was becoming more slippery as the drizzle continued to fall. When the players returned to their seats at the end of the set he complained bitterly to the umpire. "Do you think the conditions are right?" the Spaniard asked. "Don't make faces, tell me 'yes' or 'no'."

Play continued in the fourth set and so did Djokovic's domination. The Spaniard protested again, saying the conditions were as bad as they had been when they were first taken off, and this time the referee agreed.

Voices
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond delivers his speech at the Scottish National Party (SNP) Spring Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland April 12, 2014.
voices
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as the troubled, melancholy Don Draper
tvAnd six other questions we hope Mad Men series seven will answer
Life & Style
The new low cost smartphone of Motorola, 'Motorola Moto G', is displayed in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 13, 2013. The smartphone, with dimensions 65.9mm W x 129.9mm H x 6.0 - 11.6mm D is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with quad-core 1,2 GHz CPU, a 4.5-inch display and Android Operating System 4.3 and a suggested price of $ 179 USD.
techData assessing smartphones has revealed tens of millions of phones are at risk of being harvested
News
David Beckham is planning to build a stadium in Miami’s port for a new football team he will own
news... in his fight for a football stadium in Miami's port area
VIDEO
News
weird newsMan live-photographs cracking of mysterious locked box on Reddit
Sport
Oliver Giroud kisses the Arsenal badge after giving the Gunners the lead
sportArsenal 3 West Ham 1: Two goals from the German striker and one piece of brilliance from Giroud puts the Gunners back above Everton
News
Plans to decriminalise non-payment of television licence fees would cost the BBC £500m according to estimates drawn up within the Corporation
people
News
weird news
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
filmAs 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star James Dean perfected his moody act
News
Obesity surgery in rats has been found to change the way the body processes alcohol
news
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
artThe Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
Life & Style
US Airways has been at the centre of a Twitter storm after it responded to customer complaints with a graphic sexual image
techUS Airways takes an interesting approach to customer service
Arts & Entertainment
Philip Arditti as Yossarian and Christopher Price as Milo Minderbinder in Northern Stage's 'Catch-22'
theatre
Arts & Entertainment
The Purple Wedding: Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell tie the knot
TV The second episode of the hit series featured a surprise for viewers
Life & Style
Back to nature: women with body issues have found naked yoga sessions therapeutic
lifeDoing poses in the altogether is already big in the US, and now it’s landed here – in mixed classes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?