Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were locked in a tight French Open final duel when rain caused a suspension of play until Monday, only the second time in history that the tournament has not finished on time.
Nadal, chasing a record seventh Roland Garros title, was leading 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 1-2 when play was halted for a second and final time at 2:50am (AEST) with conditions on Philippe Chatrier Court becoming increasingly treacherous.
The final, already in progress for three hours, will resume on Monday at 9:00pm (AEST) with Djokovic in the ascendancy and serving for a 3-1 lead in the fourth set.
The last time a French Open men's final failed to be completed on a Sunday was 1973 when it was played on the following Tuesday with Ilie Nastase beating Niki Pilic.
World number one Djokovic, bidding to become only the third man, and first in 43 years, to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time had looked down and out at one stage.
After slipping two sets down, he was also a break down at 0-2 in the third before he reeled off eight games in succession to take the third set and lead 2-0 in the fourth.
Nadal had stopped the rot for 2-1 before play was suspended.
The Spanish world number two, playing in his 16th grand slam final and seeking an 11th major, went into Sunday's final with a staggering record of 51 wins against just one loss at Roland Garros.
Djokovic, the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion, was looking to emulate Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) by holding four majors at the same time.
In a record fourth successive major final between the two, and following their almost six-hour epic in Australia, Nadal swept into a two-set lead with Djokovic undone by 30 unforced errors.
He had also earned a warning for smashing his raquet into his courtside chair box which left a gaping hole in the front.
But Djokovic, who had been two sets to love down to Andreas Seppi in the fourth round, and saved four match points in his quarter-final victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, refused to buckle.
From 2-0 down in the third, he reeled off eight games in succession to take the third set and lead 2-0 in the fourth.
The first game of the fourth set had featured a gruelling 44-shot rally.
Monday finishes have become common at the US Open in New York with the last four finals taking place on the extra day.
Roland Garros will eventually avoid more late finishes as a main court with a retractable roof will be built from 2017.
AFPTags: tennis, sport, france First posted June 11, 2012 05:24:57