French Open: Novak Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in epic final to win 19th Grand Slam title
Surprisingly talented and tenacious, Novak Djokovic was not going to surrender a thing in the wake of dropping the first two sets of the French Open final against his younger, fresher foe, Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Djokovic looked diminished and depleted at the start Sunday. Before the end, he was at his imperious best.
The top-seeded Djokovic came all the way back to beat the fifth-seeded Tsitsipas 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 for his second title at Roland Garros and nineteenth Grand Slam title in general.
“I’m very proud, very happy. I don’t want to stop there,” said Djokovic, who spread his arms, then tapped his chest and crouched to touch the red clay at Court Philippe Chatrier after ending the match with a leaping volley. “Hopefully I can keep on [winning] here in Roland Garros, at least one or two more times.”
As things stand, Djokovic is only one major trophy away from tying the men’s record of 20 shared by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and will get his first opportunity to pull even with his rivals at Wimbledon, what begins in about fourteen days.
Djokovic became one of only three men – close by Rod Laver and Roy Emerson – to have won each significant tournament at least twice. Also, presently, as the defending champion at the Australian Open and French Open, Djokovic can focus on rare achievement: He is most of the way to joining Laver (1962 and 1969) and Don Budge (1938) as the solitary men with a schedule year Grand Slam.
Djokovic, 34, eliminated of 13-time French Open champion Nadal – a test the Serb likened to scaling Mount Everest – in an semifinal that lasted over four hours Friday night.
That was just Nadal’s third career misfortune in 108 matches at the clay-court major tournament.
Djokovic likewise had defeated Nadal in Paris in 2015 preceding losing that year’s conclusive, and it showed up as though a similar destiny was waiting Sunday.
Djokovic looked drained early, and the 22-year-old Tsitsipas had the upper hand for two sets.
“It was not easy for me,” Djokovic said, “both physically and mentally.”
In the long run, however, he got his best-in-the-game return from track and served so impeccably down the stretch that he didn’t face a single break point throughout the last three sets.
That empowered him to finish his 6th career comeback from two puts down – and second of the previous week.
To be sure, the International Tennis Federation said Djokovic – who followed 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti two sets to none in the fourth round – is the first man in the professional era to win a Grand Slam tournament after twice facing a 2-0 deficit in sets. Experience might have been a factor, as well.
This was the first major final for Tsitsipas and the 29th for Djokovic, who likewise won the French Open in 2016, to go with nine titles at the Australian Open, five at Wimbledon and three at the US Open.
Of similarly to such an extent, if not more, importance to a ultimate outcome: Djokovic is 35-10 of every five-setters – including a men’s-record 32 wins in Grand Slam matches of that length – while Tsitsipas is just 5-5.
“I’d prefer to thank the Greek fans, and my group, who are continually behind me, for my fantasies. This is a long excursion,” said Tsitsipas, who was attempting to turn into the main tennis player from Greece to win a major singles title.
On a sunny, breezy afternoon, with the temperature approaching 80 degrees Fahrenheit and participation limited to 5,000, around 33% of the stadium capacity, on account of COVID-19 limitations, Tsitsipas required pretty much 100 minutes to snatch his huge lead.
The balance on dirt can be tricky, and the two men took tumbles in the first set.
Djokovic’s finished with him inclined on the sideline after a head-first fall close to the wooden net post. Tsitsipas slipped close to the baseline during the tiebreaker, smearing his white shirt and purple shorts with the rust-colored surface.
While Djokovic switched tops not long after his spill, Tsitsipas kept his dirty clothes on – as though he saw the wreck as a symbol of honor – until in the wake of losing the third set, when he mentioned a visit from a mentor to help him stretch on the sideline.
By then, at that point, the force had changed. Also, Tsitsipas never could recuperate, primarily on the grounds that he never gained any ground in Djokovic’s service games.
The originally set was tight as anyone might imagine: Tsitsipas won 43 points, Djokovic 42.
Appearing to be shockingly shaken, Djokovic started the second set with a twofold shortcoming and a swinging forehand volley that landed way long, then, at that point got broken with a wild forehand miss.
Tsitsipas broke again to lead 5-2 in that set, and Djokovic squeezed a white towel against his face at the resulting changeover. Attempting to chill? Maybe. Attempting to reset himself? Presumably.
After the subsequent set, Djokovic headed off for one of every player’s two assigned storage space breaks. The match was never entirely the equivalent.
“There’s always two voices inside: There is one telling you that you can’t do it, that it’s done, it’s finished. That voice was pretty strong after that second set,” Djokovic said. “So I felt that that was a time for me to actually vocalize the other voice and try to suppress the first one that was saying I can’t make it. I told myself I can do it. Encouraged myself. I strongly started to repeat that inside of my mind, tried to live it with my entire being.”
A supreme returner and imposer of his will, Djokovic accumulated early breaks of serve in every one of the third, fourth and fifth sets.
Shadows were spreading across the court as the sun descended in the early evening and, however Djokovic complained to seat umpire Aurelie Tourte that the artificial lights were turned on, he sparkled when it made a difference the most.
This was another match that kept going over four hours, and Djokovic was capable once more.
“The atmosphere was amazing against Rafa and today against Stefanos,” Djokovic said. “I will definitely remember these last 48 hours for the rest of my life.”