The Serb looked on course to complete the career grand slam of Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open when he moved a set to the good on Court Philippe Chatrier.
However, Nadal fought back superbly, winning the next three sets to clinch a 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4 victory – the world number one’s ninth French Open title and fifth in succession.
But despite his bitter disappointment, Djokovic promised to keep returning to Roland Garros until he wins the title, with Sunday’s defeat constituting a repeat of the 2012 final, when he also lost to Nadal in four sets.
“It’s incredible that you (Nadal) have won this tournament for a ninth time, congratulations,” the world number two said in the trophy presentation.
“Rafa was the better player today and I must also congratulate him for that.
“We didn’t get it this year, but next year we will be back and we’ll do it again and again and again until I win this tournament.
“It’s disappointing, of course. It was a great start, but he was better on the crucial points.
“I wasn’t able to bring my A-game when needed (but) to be appreciated by the fans the way I was, it gives me strength.”
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