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Oz hurt spurred Rafa to French win
Tennis gave back to Rafael Nadal as he troubled the record books once again at the French Open.
The world number one's 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4 victory over Novak Djokovic gave him an unprecedented ninth title at Roland Garros, made him the first man to win it five times in a row and the first man ever to win a grand slam title in 10 successive seasons.
Nadal also tied Pete Sampras in second place on the all-time list on 14 slams, closing the gap on Roger Federer to three.
Djokovic had hoped to become only the eighth man to win all four grand slam titles but leaves Paris licking his wounds once again having lost to Nadal for the third straight year.
The Spaniard, who has won 66 of his 67 matches on the Paris clay, was very emotional at his moment of victory and his mind went back to the Australian Open final in January when a back injury compromised him against Stan Wawrinka.
Nadal struggled mentally early in the clay season and suffered three defeats in the build-up to Roland Garros for the first time in a decade.
Speaking on court, Nadal said: "Today tennis gave me back what happened in Australia.''
At his press conference a couple of hours later, the Spaniard added: "I think it was an emotional victory after what happened in Australia.
"I think I arrived with a lot of motivation to Australia this year. I prepared myself well to be there healthy and to be there with the right level.
"All the tournament I played great, and in the final it's true that I played against a player that was playing amazing. I don't know if I would be able to beat him in that match.
"But I didn't compete in that match, so that was a little bit hard to accept for me. I had few months after that when mentally I went down a little bit. I was keeping fighting, but I didn't feel myself strong enough.
"Since one month I felt my mentality was there again. And my motivation, my positive feelings on court, was there again.
"Then it's a process that you need to work, need to win matches to play better and better. That happened. That's why I won against the toughest opponent possible today."
The 42nd meeting between Nadal and Djokovic will not go down as one of their best.
Nadal had crushed Andy Murray in the semi-finals and went into the match as the favourite but his radar was a little off in the opening set and Djokovic took advantage.
The second set was crucial and, despite seeing a break slip away, it was Nadal who won it, the Spaniard managing to be more aggressive.
Nadal was much the stronger in the third but had to fight off a late fightback from Djokovic in the fourth, clinching victory when the Serbian double-faulted, exactly as he had on match point in the final two years ago.
Nadal said: " I think in the second set the dynamic of the match changed.
"Today was very tough, very humid. The combination of two weeks of cold with the drastic change of yesterday and today, t his big change I think affected our physical performance.
"It was very important for me to win that second set. Without that second set, I don't know if I have this trophy with me now."
This will be a very tough loss to get over for Djokovic, who has now suffered two semi-final and two final defeats at Roland Garros over the last four years.
It was also a fifth loss in his last six grand slam finals for the Serbian, who hired Boris Becker as his head coach to try to give him an extra edge in the biggest matches.
Djokovic, who had won his previous four matches against Nadal, said: "It was a great start. I came back in the second, could have gone to the tie-break and it was quite even. I lost that service game at 6?5 and then the momentum went to his side.
"I started playing quite bad and didn't move as well. I struggled a little bit physically throughout that third set.
"Then in the fourth I started to feel a little bit better, but just the crucial points he played better. I wasn't playing at the level that I wanted, especially in the second part of the match.
"Congratulations to him. He was a better player in the crucial moments. Of course it's disappointing for me, but life goes on. It's not the first time or last time that I lost a match."