Andy Murray suffered his eighth grand slam final defeat as Novak Djokovic finally took the French Open title and with it his place in the highest pantheon of tennis.
The world number one becomes the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four trophies at the same time after a 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory in his fourth final at Roland Garros.
To achieve something even Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal fell short of in the same era is truly remarkable and, by winning his 12th slam title, Djokovic is only five short of Federer’s all-time record.
For Murray, it was an all-too familiar feeling as high hopes gave way to helplessness in the face of Djokovic’s brilliance, with five of his final defeats coming against the man he first faced as an 11-year-old.
The Scot, the first British man in 79 years to reach the final here, fought for all he was worth in the fourth set but ultimately he had no answer.
Djokovic lay flat on his back in the clay as he soaked in his achievement.
“It’s a very special moment,” he said. “Perhaps the biggest of my career.”
Murray apologised for not speaking French before thanking his team and the crowd.
He added: “Finally to Novak, this is his day today. What he’s achieved the last 12 months is phenomenal, winning all four of the grand slams in one year is an amazing achievement and this is something that is so rare in tennis.
“It’s going to take a long time for it to happen again. Everyone here is extremely lucky to see it. Me personally, being on the opposite side, it sucks to lose the match but I’m proud to be part of today.”
n Coach Patrick Mouratoglou has no doubt Serena Williams will equal Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 grand slam singles titles.
Williams has been stuck on 21 since winning Wimbledon last summer and fell just short again at the French Open with a 7-5 6-4 final defeat by Garbine Muguruza.
In the last three slams, Williams has lost once in the semi-finals and twice in the final, and Mouratoglou feels history is weighing heavily on her.
The Frenchman, Williams’ coach since 2012, said: “There is a very high level of expectation and tension on this 22nd grand slam. It doesn’t make her play bad but maybe not aggressive enough to win it.
“This 22nd is difficult, but the 17th and 18th (when Williams was looking to equal Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova) were difficult, too. It’s normal. You cannot play a grand slam final for history the same way as any other.
“It’s going to take the time that it’s going to take but we’re going to do it.”