Djokovic looked diminished and exhausted at the start on Sunday. In the end, he was at his best.
Seeded Djokovic is back on track to beat fifth seed Tsitsipas 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 for his second championship at Roland Garros and his 19th Grand Slam. title as a whole.
Djokovic is just one major trophy away from matching the men’s record of 20 shared by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. And defending Australian Open champion Djokovic is now halfway through a one-calendar-year Grand Slam, something no man has accomplished since Rod Laver in 1969.
Djokovic, 34, knocked out 13-time Roland Garros champion Nadal, a challenge the Serbian compared to climbing Mt. Everest – in a semi-final that lasted over four hours on Friday night.
It was only Nadal’s third career loss in 108 appearances at the major clay court tournament.
Djokovic also beat Nadal in Paris in 2015 before losing that year’s final, and it looked like the same fate awaited him on Sunday.
Djokovic looked exhausted at first, and Tsitsipas, 22, had the upper hand for two sets.
“It wasn’t easy for me, both physically and mentally,” said Djokovic, “especially in the last two or three days. “
Eventually, however, Djokovic started to make fewer mistakes, got his best of the game back on track, and served so perfectly in the stretch that he didn’t face a single breaking point over the years. last three sets.
This allowed him to complete his sixth career comeback after two sets – and the second from last week.
Indeed, the International Tennis Federation has said that Djokovic – who led 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti, two sets to zero in the fourth round – is the first man in the professional era to win a Grand Slam tournament after facing twice to a 2-0 deficit in sets.
Experience could have been a factor too.
It was the first big final for Tsitsipas and the 29th for Djokovic, who also won the French Open in 2016, as well as nine titles at the Australian Open, five at Wimbledon and three at the US Open.
All the more, if not more, for the final result on Sunday: Djokovic entered the day with a 34-10 record in five sets – including a men’s record of 31 wins in Grand Slam matches of this length – while Tsitsipas was 5 years old. -4.
On a sunny and windy afternoon, with temperatures approaching 80 degrees Fahrenheit (over 25 degrees Celsius), Tsitsipas needed just over 100 minutes to take a big lead on Sunday.
Supreme turner and imposing his will, Djokovic grabbed the first breaks of service in each of the third, fourth and fifth sets.
Shadows spread across the court as the sun set in the early evening and, although Djokovic complained that the artificial lights were on, he shone when it mattered most.
It was another game that lasted over four hours, and Djokovic was up to the task again.