Crouching in the middle of the Philippe Chatrier, Novak Djokovic crossed himself as he got up to point his racket at the sky and then thank the public for their support with that gesture that he has been practicing for a few years with which he gives them his heart. He had just come back from 0-2 against Stefanos Tsitsipas to win 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 and 6-4 in the four hours and 11 minutes that lasted the fourth longest final in the history of Roland Garros, the first resolved in five sets since the Argentine Gaudio beat his compatriot Coria in 2004. With that epic and when he seemed sunk, without spark or tension, the Serbian lifted the second trophy of his career in Paris, 19th Grand Slam, with which he remains one of the male record of 20 shared by Rafa Nadal, whom he eliminated in the semifinals, and Roger Federer. He is the third tennis player, first in the Open Era (since 1968) to win at least twice each major. Australians Roy Emerson and Rod Laver had done it before.
His rival came as close and as far from breaking down the Big Three wall as another Next Gen, Daniil Medvedev, in the 2019 US Open title match against Nadal. The duopoly of these two stars since Roland Garros 2018 could only be discussed by Dominic Thiem at the 2020 US Open. It is the sixth time that Djokovic has come back from 0-2 in the Grand Slam. He did it just a few days ago against Italian Musetti in the round of 16. He has triumphed for the second time in his career (he already did in 2016) in Australia and France in the same year. If he repeats success at Wimbledon, he will catch up with his eternal rivals. Bjorn Borg and Jim Courier handed the Musketeers Cup to a tennis freak who again seems unaffordable.
Tsitsipas approached the start of the clash with intelligence after suffering a lot on his first serve, when he had to lift two break balls. From there, he didn’t wear the rest out too much (he didn’t actually win a point in the top three), he concentrated on not losing his serve, and increased the pressure when the hot games came. In a counter-set, Novak fell and later lost one of the best points of the duel. With 5-4 Stefanos already had a break and set point that escaped him due to a couple of genius Djokovic, who took advantage of the inertia of his reaction to break the Athenian and serve to get ahead. But there his rival showed courage and pride, who recovered the disadvantage and took the contest to the tiebreaker. In that tie-break he went ahead 4-0, an advantage that against any other opponent would be definitive. Not against the number one in the world, who came back and had a set ball. Stefanos did not give up and with three consecutive goals he put the score in the final in his favor.
The success of the first set sent Tsitsipas flying into the second with a simple, balanced and precise tennis that disarmed Djokovic, strangely apathetic at that stage of the match. Thus the things, the Hellenic added two more breaks and he placed himself in a position to win on the fast track, something he would not have imagined even in the most fanciful of his dreams and, moreover, with unusual ease.
Djokovic had to come back, as he did in the second round a few days ago against Lorenzo Musetti. Although this time he had an opponent set in front of him and of a quality superior to that of the Italian. The Belgrade rider had escaped 0-2 at Grand Slams on four other occasions, including one in Paris against another transalpine, Andreas Seppi, in the fourth round of 2012. The undertaking seemed difficult this time, as Tsitsipas was not slackening too much. Even so, due to his indisputable quality, he obtained a very suffered break to try to return to the fight and with a clear increase in the level of play he shortened differences before his enemy, That he hadn’t been bad at all in that third set, he was treated for some discomfort in his lower back.
Djokovic’s reaction continued with a break at the start of the fourth quarter and another on his next turn to the rest. With 0-3 Stefanos let himself go with the right effort to start serving in the fifth set, he had no choice if he wanted to have the strength to win. He had a bad time at first, but he was seen better to clear the threat of a new break. He needed to be brave and that carries risks. For that reason and because of the Serbian’s race, he lost his serve again and, with it, half a game. Later he had arrests for not surrendering, fighting and falling with dignity. He lost a great opportunity to knock down one of the best of all time, but he still has a long career ahead of him, quite the opposite of Djokovic, who could not miss the opportunity.
Results, table and calendar.
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