Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts after winning a point against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their final match of the French Open (Image: AP)
Fight till you win! That seems to be the mantra for world number one Novak Djokovic as he came from two sets down to lift his second French Open title. The Serb defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in four hours and eleven minutes to go down in the history books as the only player to win every grand slam at least two times. For those who dared questioned his ability to challenge the legendary statuses of Federer and Nadal, Djokovic has come out with a clarion call. He came from two sets down against Musetti, he was pushed by Berrettini, he did the unthinkable against Nadal and rose from the ashes against Tsitsipas to earn his second French Open and nineteenth grand slam title.
His ability to find the right shots at the right time has been unparalleled, and Djokovic has once again cemented his position as world number one and has made a serious case for himself in the GOAT debate. With his current form, it would not surprise anyone if he overtakes Federer and Nadal in the grand slam titles race and goes down in the history books as the greatest ever. Tsitsipas put a spirited fight, but it wasn’t enough to deny the Serb his second French Open. Prior to the final, Tsitsipas had said that he would give every ounce of his body to the match, and boy, did Djokovic take him to the task. What makes Djokovic’s win even more outrageous was the fact that he was not playing at his best, even when he was coming back from two sets down.
Djokovic looked drained early on in the game and looked to carrying some fatigue from his epic semi-final against Nadal as he slipped to a two-set deficit. Djokovic broke Tsitsipas in the ninth game of the first set to take a 5-4 lead but was immediately broken by Tsitsipas to level the set at 5-5. Both players then held serve to take the set to a tie-breaker. A few slip-ups from Djokovic saw Tsitsipas take a 4-0 lead and set up a second set point with a forehand that landed so perfectly in the corner that even Djokovic was forced to applaud. The Greek then reeled off the next two points to claim the first set.
The second set saw Tsitsipas firing on all cylinders and matching the Serb shot for shot. He quickly raced to a double-break, hitting nine winners to Djokovic’s six and committing only two unforced errors to Djokovic’s ten. But Djokovic wasn’t out of the game yet. He took a leaf out of his match against Nadal, when he held serve two times after being 4-0 down. The set ended 6-2, but Djokovic looked like he was ready to pounce, just as he did against Nadal, after being 5-0 down.
The third set saw Djokovic turn the match on its head as he dialled up the aggression. The Serb dug deep and was at his tenacious best, as he claimed a crucial break following a 11-minute game to take a 3-1 lead. That moment seemed to galvanise Djokovic, who found a second gear and raised his level. The Serbian dropped only three points on his own serve in a dominant fourth set, winning 86 per cent (12/14) of points behind his powerful first delivery. After taking a 4-0 lead with a double break, Djokovic levelled the scoreline by taking the fourth set in 39 minutes.
He continued to dominate in the fifth set, with the Chatrier crowd divided between the two players. Tsitsipas saved three break points across two of his service games, including two to hold for 4-3. But he could not find a way back after dropping serve at 2-1, and the World No. 1 sealed his 19th Grand Slam crown after four hours and 11 minutes.