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Nadal sees lead eroded before rain suspends final

ESPN staff
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Rain played havoc with the French Open final © Getty Images
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Rafael Nadal was holding onto a slender lead over Novak Djokovic in the final of the French Open before heavy rain forced the contest to be postponed on Sunday.

Gallery: The final so far

With Nadal leading two sets to one but a break down in the fourth when the players were forced off court, the two men will now return on Monday to complete the final.

Nadal, the six-time champion at Roland Garros, claimed the opening two sets of the final before Djokovic - bidding for his fourth grand slam title in a row - roared back to dominate the third as the rain began to fall.

The Serbian then claimed a break to begin the fourth set, before organisers decided to pull the players off court due to the conditions - with the scoreline reading 6-4 6-3 2-6 1-2* in Nadal's favour.

It was the second time play had been suspended - the two men also left the court for 30 minutes at the end of the second stanza - but, after an inspection, organisers decided to postpone matters for the day.

Djokovic and Nadal will now return on Monday at 12pm UK time (1pm local time) to complete the championship.

With pessimistic weather forecasts abounding before the final began at 3pm local time on Sunday, there had been strong fears that rain might cause delays. And that proved to be the case, although not until after three sets had been completed.

It was Nadal, who has only lost once in his career on the clay at Roland Garros, who started the brighter, breaking Djokovic in the first game of the contest and quickly opening out a 3-0 lead. But the Serbian fought back to 3-3 after a nervy start as Nadal was suddenly the one who looked unsure - before he edged out yet another break on the way to claiming the opening set 6-4.

The second set followed a similar pattern - Nadal moving ahead immediately (after a Djokovic double-fault on break point) before the Serbian attempted to fight his way back into matters. The world No. 1 had his chances but was unable to overcome the efficient Nadal, who rode a blistering forehand to a two-set advantage - although only after rain had forced a 30-minute delay with the scoreline at 5-2.

Rafa Nadal struggled as the rain began to fell © Getty Images
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It all threatened to be so straighforward for Nadal at that point, especially after he began the third set by again opening up a 2-0 lead. Djokovic, however, was finding his touch with his forehand and proving the more aggressive in the stodgy conditions, suddenly reeling off eight games in a row to take the third set 6-2 and make his opponent look bereft of any answers.

Nadal appeared to be complaining that wet conditions were making the balls heavy and impossible for him to hit back with any spin or power, but Djokovic was revelling in the circumstances as he clearly gained the upper hand.

A break in the fourth set put him on course to level the match and set up a decider for the championship, but the elements intervened as officials brought the players off court for a second time.

This time the covers came on too and, after just over an hour of waiting, it was announced that the players would not return again on Sunday - instead coming back refreshed on Monday to complete the tournament and decide which of the duo will make tennis history.

Nadal is bidding to become the first player in the professional era to win seven French Open titles, while a win would make Djokovic only the fourth player in history to hold all four of tennis' grand slam titles at the same time.

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