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PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal was worried.
A guy so unflinching, so nearly unbeatable, while sliding and grinding and pounding his way past opponent after opponent at the French Open, got a real case of nerves during the 18 hours he and Novak Djokovic waited for the restart of their rain-interrupted final at Roland Garros.
Instead of focusing on how close he was to winning a record seventh French Open championship, Nadal grew increasingly wary of the other possible outcome: a loss in a fourth consecutive Grand Slam final against Djokovic, who was trying to become the first man since 1969 to collect four straight major titles.
When play was halted by showers on Sunday, Nadal was clinging to an ever-shrinking lead. It wasn’t until a few minutes before setting foot back on Court Philippe Chatrier, his favorite arena at his favorite tournament on his favorite surface, that Nadal set aside his anxiety. Oh, did he. The King of Clay overwhelmed the No.1-ranked Djokovic for the 50 minutes and nine games they played Monday, wrapping up a 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 victory that allowed Nadal to earn French Open trophy No. 7, breaking a tie with Bjorn Borg.
“You never know if you’re going to win another one,” said the second-ranked Nadal, who now owns 11 Grand Slam titles.
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