French Open Final haulted by rain

The French Open final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will resume on Monday after play was suspended because of persistent rain at Roland Garros.

Defending champion Nadal was leading 6-4 6-3 2-6 1-2 when the players were forced from the court at 17:50 BST.;

World number one Djokovic was in the ascendancy, however, having won eight games in a row to secure the third set and an early break in the fourth.

Play is scheduled to restart at 12:00 BST on Monday.

It means the wait to discover which one of these tennis greats will etch their names in the history books continues, as a match billed as the dream final evolved into a contest every bit as gripping as the epic finals between the pair at this year’s Australian Open and the 2011 US Open.

Nadal, aiming to break a record he shares with Bjorn Borg by winning a seventh title at Roland Garros, looked to be mercilessly heading for the title as he grabbed a two-set lead and break advantage in the third set.

But Djokovic, seeking to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win a fourth straight major, tapped into his seemingly infinite reserves of willpower to drag himself back into contention before the weather disrupted proceedings.

Six unforced errors in the opening three games from the usually faultless Djokovic racquet suggested history was weighing heavily on the Serb’s shoulders.

There were flashes of wizardry from Nadal as he burst into a 3-0 lead but by the fourth game, just as umbrellas were mushrooming around Philippe Chatrier, the world number one was back on song and soon level at 3-3 thanks to a series of crushing forehand winners.

Djokovic’s serve needed fine tuning however – 52% of his first serves were off target during the opening set – and a double fault on break point in the seventh gave Nadal the upperhand, with the Spaniard going on to wrap up the set in under an hour.

Another double fault in the opening game of the second set gifted Nadal an early break but, once again, the Serb fought back, an irretrievable backhand winner followed by a deft lob bringing the set back on serve at 2-2.

Nadal once again grabbed the initiative, though, breaking either side of a 35-minute rain delay for a two-set lead, and Djokovic’s hopes seemed as bleak as the Parisian weather as the Serb faced the daunting task of becoming the first man to overhaul a two-set deficit against the Spaniard on clay.

Djokovic, who had saved four match points in his quarter-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, went on to win six games on the trot to clinch the third set and the Serb’s winning streak continued as he broke in the opening game of the fourth before play was suspended with a rattled Nadal trailing 2-1.