Nadal's French Open quest halted by rain

Nadal-Djokovic French Open final delayed
Nadal-Djokovic French Open final delayed

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Story highlights

  • Rafael Nadal leads world No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-3 2-6 1-2 at French Open
  • The men's final at Roland Garros will resume on Monday
  • Spaniard Nadal aiming for a record seventh crown in clay-court major
  • Djokovic trying to own all four majors at the same time

The eagerly awaited French Open final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will resume on Monday after play was halted by rain on Sunday.

Rain twice interrupted the final in Paris before play was suspended with the Spaniard leading 6-4 6-3 2-6 1-2.

However the match is delicately poised given Djokovic won eight games in a row before the halt to give himself a fighting chance of becoming the first man since 1969 to hold all four majors at the same time, and only the third ever.

That run of winning games also included a break of serve in the fourth set, which will give the world No. 1 hope that he is in the ascendancy.

Aiming for a record seventh crown at Roland Garros, second-ranked Nadal made a blistering start as he broke Djokovic twice in the opening three games.

But the Serbian stemmed the leakage of points and games, unleashing a torrent of winners to break Nadal twice -- no mean feat given the Spaniard had lost just one service game in his previous six matches at Roland Garros -- to level at 3-3.

The two best players in the world traded strokes of such power at times it was like watching a couple of heavyweight boxers, and more ferocity from Nadal allowed the Mallorcan to break Djokovic for a third time.

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Russia's Maria Sharapova hits a return to Italy's Sara Errani during their Women's Singles final tennis match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, on June 9, 2012 in Paris.

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Michael Chang's historic French victory
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Brian Baker's grand slam comeback
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Gilles Simon's endurance advantage
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Amid the brutal exchange of forehands and backhands, Nadal produced the deftest of drop shots to provide a set point, which was ruthlessly converted with a waspish forehand.

Under the barrage of Nadal groundstrokes errors began to creep into Djokovic's game and a double fault in the second set's opening game once more ensured the Serbian was chasing his tail as he fell 2-0 behind.

Just as he had done in the opening set, Djokovic rallied to peg back Nadal to 2-2 after breaking the Spaniard's serve with beautifully adjudged lob.

But having done all that the hard work, Djokovic's serve once more proved fragile as Nadal broke for the fifth time in the match.

The loss of that game prompted the 25-year-old to slam his racket against his chair, for which he was warned by the umpire.

The match was then interrupted by rain but any hopes the stoppage might allow Djokovic to rethink his strategy as to halting Nadal's charge were quickly quashed as a trademark backhand from the "King of Clay" wrapped up the second set on Djokovic's serve.

Along with the venomous groundstrokes, Nadal's ability to retrieve lost causes kept Djokovic under constant pressure and a seventh break of his serve enabled the defending champion to establish a 2-0 lead in the third set.

Seemingly on his way to a straight-sets defeat, Djokovic dug in to rattle off the next six games to take the third set -- the first time in seven matches that Nadal had lost a set at Roland Garros.

Nadal complained to the umpire about the falling rain and eventually the match was stopped, with Djokovic leading 2-1 having broken his opponent's serve in that fourth set.