Clay master: Nadal wins ninth French Open title
The success marked a 14th Grand Slam title for the Spanish king of clay, three shy of the record of 17 by Roger Federer. Nadal has won his last 35 matches at the event he has dominated for a decade.
Nadal finished with a break of Djokovic in draining, physical conditions, with the Serb second seed double-faulting on match point.
“It’s amazing and emotional for me today,” said Nadal, who ended with 44 winners and broke his opponent six times.
“For me, the most important thing is win Roland Garros. The most important thing today is I won the most important tournament of the world in clay, probably the most important tournament of the year for me. It was an emotional victory after what happened in Australia (where he lost the final to Stan Wawrinka).
“Time will tell if I can have another record or not. For the time being, I’m so happy to have reached 14 Grand Slams (titles).
Djokovic could not hide his disappointment after beating Nadal in their last four meetings dating back to last autumn. He got an extended standing ovation at the trophy ceremony after standing 19-23 in the series with his biggest rival.
“I missed the trophy this year but I’ll return next year and keep trying to win it.”
Nadal has won the Roland Garros trophy at nine of the last 10 editions and now owns 45 career clay court singles titles, second to the all-time mark of 46 by Guillermo Vilas. Paris was his third title on clay this season after Rio de Janeiro and Madrid.
Nadal took a two-sets-to-one lead on a break of the fading Serb in the final gale.
“It’s normal that you have ups and downs,” said Djokovic. “I was just hoping that in the fourth I would be able to come back.
The win keeps Nadal in the ATP number one position with Djokovic remaining second. It improved Nadal’s Roland Garros record over Djokovic to 6-0.