Novak Djokovic captured a first French Open at the 12th time of asking on Sunday, becoming just the third man in history to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

The world number one downed old rival Andy Murray 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to claim a 12th career major and join Don Budge in 1938 and Rod Laver, in 1962 and 1969, as the only players to simultaneously possess the French Open, Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon trophies.

Djokovic, 29, also put himself halfway to the calendar Grand Slam, last achieved by Laver 47 years ago.

But he did it the hard way as the final reached a tense conclusion, being broken in the eighth game of the fourth set as he served for the title and then squandering two championship points in the 10th before he sealed victory when Murray netted a backhand.

Djokovic, one of only eight men to complete the career Grand Slam and who had lost his previous three finals in Paris, said:

It's a very special moment, the biggest of my career. I felt today something that I never felt before at Roland Garros, I felt the love of the crowd.

Djokovic imitated former three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten by drawing a giant heart in the Paris clay before collapsing inside it.

I drew the heart on the court, like Guga who gave me permission to do. My heart will always be with you on this court.

Time for some crazy stats:

Murray, the world number two and the first British man in the final in Paris since Bunny Austin in 1937, remains with two Grand Slam titles as he failed to become the first winner of the French Open since Fred Perry 81 years ago.

"What Novak's achieved in the last 12 months is phenomenal, winning all the Grand Slams in one year is an amazing achievement. It's so rare in tennis, and for me personally, it sucks to lose the match," said Murray.

Before a ball was hit, spectators stood to applaud Muhammad Ali after an image of the boxing legend, who died Friday, appeared on the giant video screen high up on the Philippe Chatrier court.