Paris - Rafael Nadal described his record-setting seventh French Open triumph as an "unforgettable" moment after the Spanish world No 2 defeated Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 in Monday's final.
Victory took Nadal past the six Roland Garros titles he shared with Swedish legend Bjorn Borg and his career majors total to eleven.
"It is an honour and for me the most important tournament, the greatest in my eyes," said Nadal.
"This is an unforgettable moment for me, there are a lot of emotions. It was a privilege to play against one of the best players in the world."
World No 1 Djokovic added: "Congratulations to Rafa and his team for another title, he is a great player. But I hope to come back next year and do even better."
For five-time major winner Djokovic, the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion, it was the end of his dream of emulating Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) by holding all the four Grand Slams at once.
The Serb, who now turns his attention to defending his Wimbledon title in two weeks' time, said he was determined to take positives out of reaching his first Roland Garros final.
He broke the Nadal serve - which was only broken once in the tournament before the final - seven times in all, but was undone by his 53 unforced errors.
But he admitted that he had been disappointed when the final had been halted for a second and last time on a rain-plagued Sunday with him having taken the third set and standing 2-1 in the fourth with a break of serve.
"I started to lay better in the third set. I hoped to play a fifth set. The first interruption (a set and 5-3 down in the second set) helped me. But the second break did not," he said.
"The playing conditions were not good. But it's not anybody's fault, and it's not the reason why I lost today.
"I reached the final for the first time here, so I wouldn't change anything. Everything happens for a reason."
2012 French Open winners:
Men's Singles - Rafael Nadal (2), Spain
Women's Singles - Maria Sharapova (2), Russia
Men's Doubles - Max Mirnyi, Belarus, and Daniel Nestor (1), Canada
Women's Doubles - Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci (4), Italy
Mixed Doubles - Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi (7), India
Under 45 Legends - Albert Costa and Carlos Moya, Spain
Over 45 Legends - John and Patrick McEnroe, United States
Women's Legends - Lindsay Davenport, United States, and Martina Hingis, Switzerland
Boys' Singles - Kimmer Coppejans (6), Belgium
Girls' Singles - Annika Beck (2), Germany
Boys' Doubles - Andrew Harris and Nick Kyrgios, Australia
Girls' Doubles - Daria Gavrilova and Irina Khromacheva (2), Russia
Men's Wheelchair Singles - Stephane Houdet (2), France
Women's Wheelchair Singles - Esther Vergeer (1), Netherlands
Men's Wheelchair Doubles - Frederic Cattaneo, France, and Shingo Kunieda, Japan
Women's Wheelchair Doubles - Marjolein Buis and Esther Vergeer (2), Netherlands