French Open Men's Final: Live Report

AFP IS NOW CLOSING THIS LIVE REPORT after play in the French Open men's final was suspended until Monday due to rain with Rafael Nadal leading Novak Djokovic by two sets to one.

Nadal, chasing a record seventh Roland Garros title, was leading 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 1-2 when play was halted for a second and final time at 6:50 pm local time (1650GMT) with conditions on Philippe Chatrier Court becoming increasingly treacherous.

The final will resume on Monday at 1:00 pm local time (1100GMT).

World number one Djokovic, bidding to become only the third man, and first in 43 years, to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time had looked down and out at one stage.

After slipping two sets down, he was also a break down at 0-2 in the third before reeling off eight straight games to take the third set and lead 2-0 in the fourth.

Nadal had stopped the rot at 2-1 before play was suspended.

It is only the second time in history that the tournament has not finished on time - the only other time was in 1973 when it was played on the following Tuesday with Ilie Nastase beating Niki Pilic.

1802 GMT: The match will restart tomorrow at 1300 Paris time, which is 1100 GMT.

1759 GMT: Bad news I'm afraid - I'm just hearing from my colleagues in Paris that the final has been postponed to Monday.

1745 GMT: For those of you who like a match stat or two, here are a couple to chew on. Despite Nadal's two sets to one lead, Djokovic - with 33 - has hit more winners than the Spaniard, who has managed 29 so far. But the Serbian has also produced more unforced errors - 40 to the defending champion's 23.

A reminder that the tournament organisers have said they are hoping to get play back underway in 15 minutes or so - no guarantees though.

The last time the French Open final was not completed on a Sunday was 1973 when Ilie Nastase defeated Niki Pilic.

1730 GMT: A reminder that Nadal has a remarkable Roland Garros career record of 51 wins and just one defeat. The 26-year-old is playing his seventh final in Paris after having lost just 35 games in the previous six rounds.

1712 GMT: My colleague Allan Kelly has been in touch from Paris: "They just announced on court that there will be no play before 8pm - 1800 GMT - but even that is not certain - the rain is light but it is constant."

1700 GMT: Nadal was pretty unhappy with the tournament director as they came off there, sending a sarcastic thumbs up in his direction.

"I thought Toni taught Rafa never to lose his cool. There are some angry Nadals about just now. Should be more worried about Djoko," says Times tennis correspondent Neil Harman on Twitter.


The rain is coming down again on Court Philippe Chatrier and the players are off again I'm afraid...

1651 GMT: *Djokovic 4-6 3-6 6-2 2-1 Nadal - Finally Nadal stops the rot by holding serve.

But the rain in Paris is getting heavier again...

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1648 GMT: Djokovic 4-6 3-6 6-2 2-0 *Nadal - Djokovic holds - and that's eight games in a row for the Serbian!

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1643 GMT: *Djokovic 4-6 3-6 6-2 1-0 Nadal - Nadal rushed out of his seat for the start of this fourth set -- but Djokovic is in the zone here and, after several deuces, he breaks the Spaniard's serve again. Surely he can't keep this up?

"There's an air of stunned disbelief at Roland Garros," my colleague Allan Kelly writes from Paris. "No-one has ever taken seven games in a row from Nadal here on clay!!"

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Djokovic 4-6 3-6 6-2 *Nadal - Djokovic pulls of a delicate drop shot to take it to 40-0 and he seals the set as Nadal sends a return long - after averaging under 50% first serves in in the first two sets he pushed that statistic up to 78% in the third.

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1630 GMT: *Djokovic 4-6 3-6 5-2 Nadal - This is remarkable - Djokovic has broken again! The Serbian takes it to deuce and Djokovic forces a break point which he converts. Game on!

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1623 GMT: Djokovic 4-6 3-6 4-2 *Nadal - Djokovic consolidates the break by holding serve to 15, including a sizzling ace.

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1620 GMT: *Djokovic 4-6 3-6 3-2 Nadal - ...but Djokovic breaks again as Nadal dumps a forehand in the net! His dad, sitting in the crowd, is loving this and is on his feet after every point.

The rain is still falling a the Serb seems to be coping with it better than Nadal...

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1615 GMT: Djokovic 4-6 3-6 2-2 *Nadal - A booming serve followed by big forehand from Djokovic takes it to 40-30. He nets to take it to deuce but closes out the game.

This may not be over yet (though recent history between these two on clay doesn't bode too well for Djokovic - Nadal beat him in the finals at Monte Carlo and then Rome.)

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1608 GMT: *Djokovic 4-6 3-6 1-2 Nadal - Hang on, Djokovic has broken back - a couple of errors from Nadal who first hits a forehand long and then nets. The Serbian attacks the net and Nadal's attempted pass flies wide before Djokovic converts with a forehand that the Spaniard frames.

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1603 GMT: Djokovic 4-6 3-6 0-2 *Nadal - Nadal breaks and Djokovic is rapidly running out of time to turn this around. Fist-pump from Rafa who can see the finish-line now.

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1555 GMT: *Djokovic 4-6 3-6 0-1 Nadal - Djokovic battles to 15-30 and then forces a break point at 30-40. But some superlative defensive play from Nadal followed by two misses from the Serb and the Spaniard closes out the game.

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1550 GMT: Djokovic two sets down - surely too much to ask for him to recover from this in his first French Open final? He did save four match points against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his quarter-final but Nadal is a different prospect...


Djokovic 4-6 3-6 *Nadal - Nadal carries on where he left before the 30-minute rain break. A spectacular winner from the defending champion and he secures a two-set lead.

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1545 GMT: Djokovic to serve - we're back under way..

1540 GMT: I spoke too soon - the rain has eased off Nadal and Djokovic are back out back out and a few practise serves we should be back under way.

1530 GMT: This from my colleague Allan Kelly at an increasingly damp centre court in Paris:

"Usually you can count on a few French political types being on hand to see the men's final at Roland Garros, but it's parliamentary elections today in France so they are 'otherwise occupied'..."

Afraid the rain is continuing to fall -- this could be a lengthy delay...


*Djokovic 4-6 3-5 Nadal - Nadal holds to love - but here comes the rain...

The umbrellas are up and this time play is suspended on Court Philippe Chatrier.

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1505 GMT: Djokovic 4-6 3-4 *Nadal - Nadal breaks. Djokovic needs to break back quickly or he can wave goodbye to this set.

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1459 GMT: *Djokovic 4-6 3-3 Nadal - Interesting point at 15-0 when Djokovic's backhand is incorrectly called long on the baseline, just as Nadal returned it for a winner. The umpire asked them to replay the point but the Serb conceded it. Some fine sportsmanship in the heat of battle from the 25-year-old.

Nadal sees out the game.

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1453 GMT: Djokovic 4-6 3-2 *Nadal - Djokovic holds after a struggle. Nadal takes it to 30-15 but then sends a forehand long and the Serb lets out a roar as he closes out the game.

Worrying statistic for the Djokovic though: the Serb is getting just 40% of first serves in this second set.

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1449 GMT: *Djokovic 4-6 2-2 Nadal - A scorching crosscourt backhand from Djokovic passes Nadal at the net and earns the Serb two break points. After a punishing rally, he seals the break with a beautifully judged topspin lob over a net-bound Nadal.

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1440 GMT: Djokovic 4-6 1-2 *Nadal - Nadal ups the pace with a forehand that catches Djokovic out of position and takes it to deuce. He sends his next attempt one just wide to his disgust before Djokovic closes out the game with a forehand of his own down the line. The Serb has a foothold in the set.

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1434 GMT: *Djokovic 4-6 0-2 Nadal - Some big serves from the Spaniard there but Djokovic thumps a scorching winner to earn a break point. Nadal saves it with a big serve out wide to the ad court and another kicker.

Some more long baseline rallies before Nadal wins one point with a drive volley at the net. He comes to the net again for a smash which Djokovic somehow pats back but the defending champion seals the game this time with an emphatic overhead.

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1426 GMT: Djokovic 4-6 0-1 *Nadal - Djokovic finds a ridiculous angle after being pulled wide by Nadal to save a break point at 30-40. But Nadal earns another chance and a second serve from the Serb pings the net-cord and flies wide.

A few spot of rain falling again in Paris but they're playing on...

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*Djokovic 4 Nadal 6

Two big serves from Nadal makes it 30-0 before Djokovic finally gets hold of a return at the third attempt to drag a point back. A scintillating exchange from both players is then finished off with a delicate dropshot from Nadal that Djokovic can't reach. Nadal then cracks a winner to seal the first set in 58 minutes.

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1411 GMT: Djokovic 4 *Nadal 5 - Djokovic manages to hold to 15, sealing the game with a clinical crosscourt backhand winner.

But the Serbian was cursing to himself at the last changeover and it's easy to see why with his first serve percentage at just 46%.

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1406 GMT: *Djokovic 3 Nadal 5 - Djokovic sends a couple of loose backhands wide will and Nadal holds with ease. Djokovic will serve to stay in the first set.

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1402 GMT: Djokovic 3 *Nadal 4 - Nadal breaks straight back. The Spaniard battles his way to a break point at 30-40 but then misses with a return. Djokovic nets to gives him a second chance and then Serbian double faults!

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1356 GMT: *Djokovic 3 Nadal 3 - Djokovic breaks again! Now have a match on our hands. The Serbian unleashed four blistering forehand crosscourt winners in that game and Nadal was clearly unnerved, sensing the increased intensity of his opponent.

Two double faults ensue from the Spaniard's racquet and a brilliant backhand down the line wins it for Djokovic. That game lasted over ten minutes.

And good news - the umbrellas in the crowd are coming down...

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1344 GMT: Djokovic 2 Nadal *3 - And Djokovic follows the break by holding his serve for the first time.

But oh dear, some drizzle is now falling on Court Philippe Chatrier - gentle though so they seem to be playing on for now.

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1338 GMT: *Djokovic 1 Nadal 3 - Finally, Djokovic gets his name on the board -- and with a break. Some audible grunts from the Serbian in that game as he finds some rhythm on his groundstrokes.

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1333 GMT: Djokovic 0 *Nadal 3 - And Nadal breaks again - the left-hander earns two-break points with a sizzling forehand winner down the line. He misses with his return on the first but Djokovic then misses with a poor forehand.

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1328 GMT: *Djokovic 0 Nadal 2 - Nadal holds with ominous ease - the 26-year-old is straight into his stride from the baseline with some punishing topspin forehands which force Djokovic into several errors.

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1324 GMT: Djokovic 0 *Nadal 1 - Nadal breaks in that first game. Early signs of tension from Djokovic - he manages to save three break points but then sends a forehand long.

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1318 GMT: Out comes Djokovic to serve in the first game - they're under way in Paris. Can the Serb defy the odds to become only the third player ever to hold all four majors at the same time?

1312 GMT: The pair are knocking up on Court Philippe Chatrier -- a few ominous statistics on the defending champion Nadal: the Spaniard is yet to lose a set at this year's championships, and has lost just 35 games over the six rounds he's played.

The sky is slate grey but there's little wind which is promising.

1306 GMT: And here they both come -- Nadal in a red t-shirt with white shorts and Djokovic dressed all in black.

Djokovic is first up for the toss of the coin...

AFP's Allan Kelly tells me former champion here Mats Wilander is to present the trophy, La Coupe des Mosquetaires (The Musketeers' Trophy), to the winner. The Swede, writing in L'Equipe sports daily predicts Nadal to win in four sets with the first two sets being shared.

1303 GMT: Players keeping us waiting a bit here -- Allan Kelly sent me this earlier: "Djokovic has already completed his warm-up on a near empty centre court. Interestingly he chose Frenchman Nicolas Devilder to help him get ready for the greatest challenge in tennis - taking on Nadal on clay. No coincidence that Devilder, who Djokovic beat in the third round, like Nadal is a lefty."

1255 GMT: "It's almost time... :)" tweets Novak Djokovic on his official account @DjokerNole.

1250 GMT: More from Allan Kelly in Paris: "A little nod in the direction of London before the players take to the court as some of the past Olympic flag-bearers for France are introduced and this year's "Tricouleur" is handed over to fencer Laura Flessel -- she looks rightfully chuffed and gives it a whirl."

1245 GMT: AFP's Jacques Klopp in Paris tells me the French tennis federation has said a brief shower is expected in the net 30 to 40 minutes -- let's hope they're wrong.

Players are due out in around ten minutes.

1235 GMT: My colleague Allan Kelly at Roland Garros says the pre-match build-up has begun: "Colourfully attired French military band blasting out some cheery marching songs on the red clay of the Philippe Chatrier centre court at the moment as fans start to take their places.

"Many anxious glances up at the sky with the cloud cover darkening ominously "

WELCOME TO AFP'S LIVE REPORT on the men's final of the French Open in Paris which sees six times champion Rafael Nadal take on world number one Novak Djokovic.

The match is due to start on Court Philippe Chatrier at 1300GMT -- forecast thunderstorms permitting -- so stay with us for all the action as it (hopefully) unfolds.


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