(CNN) — Rafael Nadal wore down Novak Djokovic in another enthralling meeting of the two best players in the world Sunday to claim his record ninth French Open title.
Nadal dropped the first set before fighting back to win 4-6 7-5 6-2 6-4 in three hours forty minutes on Philippe Chatrier, sinking to his knees after Djokovic double faulted on the first match point.
Victory confirms the 28-year-old Spaniard in top spot in the rankings, having come under pressure from his Serbian rival this season.
Djokovic, who is still searching for the French Open title to complete his career grand slam, came into the match off the back of four straight wins against Nadal, including the recent Rome Masters on clay.
But he had lost on five previous occasions to the “King of Clay” at Roland Garros and it was a streak that was to be continued.
Djokovic took the opener on a single break of service, but after a topsy-turvy second set with both men losing service, it was Nadal who crucially drew level.
He dominated the third and kept up the pressure in the fourth, although an early break for Nadal was canceled out by Djokovic.
But trailing 4-5, the world number two conceded his own service, the match ending on an anti-climactic note.
It handed Nadal a 14th career grand slam title — drawing him level with American Pete Sampras on the all-time list.
Only arch-rival Roger Federer with 17 is ahead of Nadal, who was winning his fifth straight French Open title with just one defeat in 66 matches on the clay in Paris.