Novak Djokovic won his 19th Grand Slam title after fighting back after two sets to beat Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Roland Garros final.
Seeded Djokovic, 34, was in deep trouble before regaining his energy to win 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4.
The Serbian’s greatest experience shone as fifth seed Tsitsipas withered in his first Grand Slam final.
The victory places Djokovic in a major title behind the men’s record jointly held by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
After beating Nadal in an epic semi-final on Friday, he said: “These are unforgettable moments for me in my life and my career. I will definitely remember the last 48 hours of my life. “
Djokovic, who had previously won Roland Garros in 2016, became the first man to win all four Grand Slams twice since the start of the fully professional Open era in 1968.
The world number one will have the opportunity to level up on 20 titles with his big rivals Nadal and Federer when he defends his Wimbledon crown later this month.
After Tsitsipas saved a league point with a nerveless forehand winner on the line, Djokovic remained calm to attempt his second attempt after four hours and 11 minutes with clinical overload.
His expression remained unmoved as he shook Tsitsipas’ hand, before erupting into a maniacal roar outside the area where his parents, wife Jelena, and coach Marian Vajda were partying.
Tsitsipas was a picture of devastation as he collapsed in his chair, draping his towel over his head to hide the full extent of his emotions.
Djokovic teaches the younger generation another lesson
After third-seeded Djokovic and Nadal were drawn in the same half of the men’s singles, it presented the high likelihood of a new name in a Grand Slam final on the other side of the draw.
Tsitsipas was already tipped to be that man after winning more games than anyone on the ATP circuit in 2021 and was a hit on clay with titles in Monte Carlo and Lyon.
The question that has long been asked – and continues to be asked – is whether the younger generation could translate this into old guard success on the biggest stage of all.
The five-set format is long and arduous on body and soul during the fortnight. Time and time again, Djokovic has proven he has the physical and mental ability to outlast even the most talented opponents.
Initially, Djokovic seemed to be feeling the effects of Friday’s intense semi-final victory over 13-time champion Nadal.
Looking tired and bothered by the blazing Parisian sun, he struggled on serve and was unsure of his shot as he trailed off straight sets.
Yet, as history has shown, it would have been foolish to rule it out.
In his last 16 game against Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti last week, Djokovic hit back after two sets for the fifth time in his career and showed he can do the same against Tsitsipas early in the third.
The pressure of a fifth breaking point was revealed when Djokovic took Tsitsipas’s serve for a 3-1 lead. Suddenly the momentum had completely changed.
Djokovic remained largely calm as his precise strikes and rhythm returned, helping him relax in the fourth set and allowing him to control the decider.
The extraordinary effort he put into beating Nadal would probably have been rendered useless by Djokovic if he had lost to Tsitsipas in the one that mattered even more.
Another break early in the match gave him the opportunity to serve the championship and, with over four hours on the clock, survived a slight wobble to crush Tsitsipas’ dreams.