"Without that second set, I don't know if I have this trophy with me now," Nadal would say later.
When a down-the-line forehand winner ended the second set, Nadal leaped and shook both fists, his first sign of real emotion.
"The momentum went (to) his side," Djokovic said. "I started playing quite bad and didn't move as well. Struggled a little bit physically throughout that third set."
That was apparent. His cheeks were flushed. He put his hand on his heaving chest. He wobbled and nearly fell over while sitting on his changeover bench.
Still, after trailing 4-2 in the fourth, Djokovic made one last stand. As skilled a retriever as his formidable foe — Djokovic won 10 of the first 15 points that lasted at least 10 strokes — he came up with a desperation defensive lob that landed right near the baseline, drawing a netted overhead from Nadal to earn a break point. Soon, it was 4-all.
But Nadal steadied himself to hold to 5-4, then broke one last time. Soon enough, he was clutching the French Open trophy, his trophy.