Novak Djokovic completes remarkable turnaround to seal Roland Garros title

The World No.1 is the first male player in the Open Era and only the third man in history, to achieve the career Grand Slam twice.

Novak Djokovic won the 2021 French Open; Credit: [email protected]

A resilient Novak Djokovic completed a stunning turnaround in the Roland Garros final on Sunday, fighting back from a two-set deficit to take down Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. It was his second French Open title and an incredible 19th Grand Slam triumph. With the win, Djokovic achieved a historic milestone, becoming the first male player in the Open Era and only the third man in history to win the career Grand Slam twice. The only men to have won each Grand Slam on two or more occasions are Roy Emerson and Rod Laver. The Serbian has also won nine Australian Open, five Wimbledon, and three US Open titles.

Djokovic, who earlier won the Roland Garros title in 2016, added a 19th Grand Slam to his ever-growing trophy cabinet. With the win, he closed the gap on 20-time champions Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most major men’s singles titles. This is also his second Grand Slam of the season after beginning the year by lifting his ninth Australian Open trophy. With his second Grand Slam title in a row, he remains firmly on track for a calendar Grand Slam. At 34 years, he still continues to dominate the tennis world, with his never-say-die attitude.

Djokovic’s path to French Open triumph was not simple, as he had to come back from two sets to love in the fourth round against Lorenzo Musetti. Then he faced perhaps the toughest test of all, defeating 13-time champion Rafael Nadal in an epic four-set battle for a spot in the final. Having trailed 0-5 in the opening set, the Serbian bounced back impressively to win the match 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 in four hours and 11 minutes.

Slow start

Many feared that Djokovic’s grueling and exhausting semifinal victory would pose a problem in the final, but that was not the case. It did take time for the Serb to find his range against Tsitsipas, but the World No. 1 was unstoppable after finding his feet. He is only the sixth player in the Open Era to come back from a two-set deficit in a Grand Slam final, and the first at Roland Garros since Gaston Gaudio’s 2004 comeback against Guillermo Coria.

Tsitsipas also needed five sets to see off Alexander Zverev in the semifinals, but he was quick off the mark against Djokovic on Sunday. The Greek player fired three aces in his first service game to save two break points. Stefanos, who was bidding to become the first player from his country to win a Grand Slam title, did well to hold on to the Serb’s pressure at Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Novak claimed the first break of the match to serve for the set at 6-5. But Tsitsipas hit back immediately to send them into a tie-breaker before sealing the hard-fought opening set in some style. The 19-time Grand Slam winner was expected to stage a fightback, but it was not the case. Tsitsipas found an even higher level in the second set as he went 2-0 up in no time.

Incredible comeback

Djokovic was down, but he was far from out. With the Greek star having a comfortable lead in the scorecard, the World No.1 staged his fightback, turning the match on its head. Novak amped up the aggression and secured a crucial service break. Tsitsipas saved four break points but was unable to hold for long as the World No. 1 took a 3-1 lead.

With the momentum on his side, there was no stopping Djokovic after that point. He won the third and fourth sets with little difficulty. The Serbian continued to dominate the fifth set even as Tsitsipas managed to hold on under difficult circumstances. But the Greek player was not able to find a way back after dropping serve at 2-1, and the World No. 1 saw out the set to win his second French Open title.

Sportslumo Desk

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