Novak Djokovic on Sunday vowed to battle on in his quest to win the French Open and complete his collection of all four Grand Slam titles.
Only seven men in history have swept the boards at Wimbledon, and the US, French and Australian Opens, and the achievement is held in the highest esteem in the tennis world.
But apart from a superb first set in Sunday’s final at Roland Garros against Rafael Nadal, Djokovic never really looked like adding his name to that list as he went down 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4.
It was a hammer blow for the 27-year-old Serb, a six-time Grand Slam winner, but who has lost his last three finals in majors following his losses last year to Andy Murray at Wimbledon and Nadal at the US Open.
Despite losing to Nadal at Roland Garros in the last three years — in the final of 2012 and the semi-finals last year — Djokovic said he still had hope, all the more so for the long standing ovation he received at the start of the prize ceremony.
“It was fantastic. I am so grateful for the opportunity to play here,” he said.
“Of course it’s right after you go off the court and you want this title so much and you don’t win it for several years now, and it’s disappointing.
“But it’s not the first time that I have this particular experience. At the end of the day, you have to put things in perspective and see where I come from and what kind of life I have. It’s a blessing.
“So to be able to also be appreciated by the fans the way I was in the end of the match just gives me more, I’d say strength and motivation to come back here and try till the end of my career hopefully to get at least a title.”
If Djokovic needs any encouragement when he ponders his Paris defeats, he need look no further than his other big rival Roger Federer.
The Swiss great swept all before him, but repeatedly came up short at the French Open, usually at the hands of Nadal.
It looked at one stage, after 10 failed campaigns on the Paris clay courts that he would never bag the elusive win that would consecrate his career, when out of the blue Robin Soderling defeated Nadal in a huge upset in the 2009 fourth round.
Federer duly entered the history books a week later when he beat Soderling in straight sets in the final.
Djokovic has now also come up short in 10 French Opens, so if Federer is anything to go by, next year could see him finally hold aloft the Coupe des Mousquetaires.