History man Djokovic fights back against Tsitsipas to win French Open crown
Novak Djokovic came from two sets down on Sunday to claim the French Open men's title for a second time. He beat the fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in four hours and 12 minutes to hoist his 19th trophy at a Grand Slam tournament and a leading place in the history of tennis.
The 34-year-old Serb became only the third man after Roy Emerson and Rod Laver to win at least two times at the four Grand Slam tournament venues in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York.
Djokovic though is the first man to achieve the feat since tennis became open to professional players in 1968.
Tsitsipas, at 22, will have to wait a little longer before he begins to soar in the such rarified hemispheres.
He started his first final at a Grand Slam event with a double fault. It got worse later when he faced a break point.
He saved that but another came up. His first ace of the match neutralised the threat and two more gave him his first game in the most prestigious match of his life.
Serving a 4-5 down, Djokovic coughed up a set point but saved it after a 25-stroke rally and eventually he held.
Djokovic's break point came in the next game and he took it when a Tsitsipas forehand went long.
Djokovic fluffed the chance though to serve for the set.
The tiebreak began in a storm of four points for Tsitsipas. But Djokovic reeled him in and notched up his own set point at 6-5.
But Tsitsipas not only saved it with a dashing half-volleyed forehand winner, he took the next two points to claim the first set after 72 minutes.
It put the win in his sails? Tsitsipas broke at the start of the second and wrapped it up 6-2 to lead two sets to love after one hour and 47 minutes.
It was control but not domination. And Djokovic started his recovery early in the third when Tsitsipas attempted to level at 2-2. He took the 11 minute game to lead 3-1 and within three minutes it was 4-1.
Djokovic did not offer any chances for Tsitsipas to break back and he won the third 6-3 after 45 minutes.
Tsitsipas got some treatment between the third and fourth set. And he promptly got broken to send even more momentum towards his opponent.
The winners were flowing from Djokovic's racquet as the errors and poor choices oozed from Tsitsipas.
The Greek was to all intents and purposes beaten as soon as Djokovic held for 2-0 in the fourth after two hours and 47 minutes.
Djokovic got the double break to lead 3-0 and brandished his racquet. It appeared to be a question of how long Tsitsipas would bleed before he was dead.
His 12th ace at least got him on the board for the fourth set. But it was a question of how would he operate against a rampant Djokovic in the fifth.
Tsitsipas wore the look of a man who was continuing without belief and a 13th ace at least forced Djokovic to serve for the fourth. It was all over in 32 minutes.
After three hours and 17 minutes, they were level.
Tsitsipas saved a break point a break point on the way to holding his opening service game. But he faltered next time up.
And Djokovic held with ease to lead 3-1. Djokovic sailed on and had two points for a double break to take a 5-2 lead. Tsitsipas saved them to keep himself alive.
But he had not contested a break point on the Djokovic serve since the second set more than two hours earlier. Djokovic played calm percentage tennis to move to 5-4 and a chance to enter legend.
The final game was not glittering with Djokovic winners. But longtime rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were eclipsed when the final volley was put away. He raised both arms to salute the acclaim and his chapter in the history books.
"It's not easy to play against two great champions in two days," said Djokovic. "It's a dream to win."
Turning to Tsitsipas, he added: "I can to relate to what it is to lose in your first grand slam tournament. Knowing him and his team, I believe he will win a Grand Slam title."
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