Djokovic Rallies To Beat Tsitsipas At French Open For 19th Slam, 2nd Career Slam

by Staff | June 13th, 2021, 7:06 pm

Novak Djokovic continued to rewrite history Sunday in Paris. Going for his 19th Grand Slam title and a second Career Slam, the favored Serb found himself down and out behind two sets to none to an in-form Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of the French Open. But for the second time in a week, the Serb rallied from 0-2 down stunning the Greek for a historic 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory in four hours, 11 minutes.

The win makes Djokovic the only man in the Open Era to win two Calendar Slams. And it moves him within one of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the all-time Grand Slam leaderboard.

“I am thrilled and I’m very proud of this achievement,” said Djokovic. “I think part of the history of the sport that I love with all my heart is always something that is very inspiring and very fulfilling for me. I couldn’t be happier and more satisfied with this kind of scenario in the last 48 hours. Probably ranks at the top three all-time achievements and experiences that I had in my professional tennis career.

“Going through four-and-a-half battle with Rafa on his court, then bouncing back after not practicing yesterday, just coming in today with as much as recharged batteries and energy regained to fight another battle of four-and-a-half hours against Tsitsipas, who is playing in his first Grand Slam finals. It’s always, of course, a bit tricky because you’re playing for your trophy, for your first Grand Slam trophy, but you don’t have much to lose.”

Djokovic had the opening set on his racquet. After breaking at 5-all, Djokovic got into it with the chair on the changeover about time violations which was not given to him but to Tsitsipas in the previous game.

That discussion seemed to drop Djokovic’s focus. Serving for the set with Tsitsipas deflated, he lost three straight points on serve and got broken at 15. In the tiebreaker, he let go of the first four points and despite battling back, it was too little too late.

Tsitsipas, who had never lost a match from a set up in Paris, broke again to gain complete control of the match early in the second. Djokovic appeared weary and lifeless, gasping for any kind of energy.

Tsitsipas would run away with the second, closing in on that first Slam.

In search of something, Djokovic would leave the court and like he did against Lorenzo Musetti after going down two sets to the teen, he would return a new man. In a long 2-1 game, Djokovic broke and finally there was life. Not soon after, he had a set.

Djokovic would break again to start the fourth as Tsitsipas sought treatment for a back or leg injury. Now it was a match.

About 90 minutes after Tsitsipas was feeling good up two sets, it was suddenly level going into a fifth, and Djokovic had all the momentum and all the experience.

Tsitsipas, though, would avoid a 0-30 hole to start on his serve. But Djokovic would secure the final break of the match in the Greek’s very next service game and that was all he needed.

“Second set I dropped physically and mentally I think a little bit,” said Djokovic who tallied 56 winners and won 78% on his first serve. “I just got fatigued a bit, just allowed him to kind of dominate the second set pretty much. Then went out from the court, as it was the case against Musetti in the fourth round when I was two sets down, and came back as a different player. Just refreshed, managed to make a break, early break in the third.

“After that I felt like I got into his head. I feel like I started swinging through the ball better. The momentum was on my side, it shifted. There was no looking back from that moment.”

Djokovic, who had never won a Slam final from two sets down, improves to an impressive 5-1 in 5-set Slam finals. He also becomes the first player since 1949 to author two 0-2 comebacks en route to a major win. And he’s not revealing how he did it.

“My guardian angels are there,” Djokovic said. “I have my special corner. It’s a secret. I can’t reveal the secret. It’s been working for me pretty well.”

Tsitsipas was the first Greek player to make a Slam final, but it was a missed opportunity.

“Started playing really short,” Tsitsipas assessed. “I felt like my rhythm was off. I really don’t know why. It was very strange considering that I started finding my rhythm, finding my shots, my movement on the court was perfect, and suddenly just felt cold and out of it.

“It was difficult to readjust. I felt like I kind of lost my game a little bit. I really wish I could understand why things like this happened and evolved. But I was trying to figure it out during my game. It was difficult to come up with something.

“It’s very unfortunate, very sad in the same way because it was a good opportunity. I was playing good. I was feeling good. Yeah, I lost an opportunity to do something better today.”

At just 22, Tsitsipas is confident he can use the difficult defeat as fuel for the future.

“What I learned today is that no matter what, in order for the match to be finished, you have to win three sets and not two,” he said. “Two sets doesn’t really mean anything. It’s still one away of winning the entire match.

“I don’t think I relaxed. I don’t think I changed much. I just kept the same pace. I kept the things that were working for me. But it ended up, I don’t know, he left the court after two sets to love down, I don’t know what happened there, but he came back to me like a different player suddenly.

“Despite my loss today, I have faith in my game. I very much believe I can get to that point very soon. I was close today. Every opponent is difficult. There’s a small difference between the player I played today and the ones from before.

“But I think with the same attitude, if I don’t downgrade myself, I see no reason for me not to be holding that trophy one day.”

Djokovic will now head to Wimbledon as the defending champion and the tournament favorite. If he wins there, he would tie Federer and Nadal and then go into New York with a shot at 21 and completing the Calendar Slam.

“Everything is possible,” said Djokovic. “Definitely in my case I can say that what I’ve been through in my career, in my life, this journey has been terrific so far. I’ve achieved some things that a lot of people thought it would be not possible for me to achieve.

“I never thought it was a mission impossible to reach the Grand Slams of these guys. I mean, I’m not there, but it’s one less. But they are still playing. Obviously they’re playing great, especially Rafa with his level.

“I’ll keep on going. I’ll keep on chasing. At the same time I’ll keep on paving my own path, which is my own authentic path. We all three of us have our own journeys, and that’s it.”

The chase resumes in two weeks.

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19 Comments for Djokovic Rallies To Beat Tsitsipas At French Open For 19th Slam, 2nd Career Slam

Wog Boy Says:

Some of the reactions from the people who know thing or two about tennis:

chrisford1 Says:

This may be melodramatic fan stuff, but as a long time Novak fan and there all the way with the near impossible dream to beat Rafa and win, all the times tried and failed against Nadal on clay, some close. That was absolutely epic.
And I cried at the end of Rafa-Novak #58.
And thought of Stan Wawrinka and knowing Tsisipas had a great chance as a spoiler.
Down 2 sets and still trying to find a live feed
Then following the Guardian blow-by-blow giving up on streaming….
And realizing he had reversed it, it would not end like it did with Stan 5 years ago, I cried like I did when Djokovic finally got his ultimate challenge – beat a healthy Rafa at RG.

skeezer Says:

From the guy who said Tsitsi was the favorite 🤣
BTW Glad you think AR knows a thing or 2 about tennis👍
Congrats Djoker on #19.

Michael Says:

It would have been a shame if Novak having slayed Rafa had went on to lose the finals. But he deservingly won once again from behind showing what a Champion he really is always raising as a phoenix from the ashes.Although the GOAT debate will linger on, yet at the present moment, Novak has seperated himself from both Rafa and Roger and is truly a class apart which can be evidenced from the records that he keeps piling up with impeccable regularity.

Navin K Says:

The decade of dominance in tennis
1970’s Belongs to Bjon Borg Jimmy Connors is next in line rival
1980’s Belongs to ivan Lendil Jhon McKenroe is next in line rival
1990′ s Belongs to Pete Sampras Andre Aggassi is next in line rival
2000′ s Belongs to Roger Federer Rafel Nadal is next in line rival
2010′ s Belongs to Novak Djovovic Rafel Nadal is next in line rival
2020 ?

Milos Says:

Ciciban almost pulled this one off :-)

jatin Says:

Before the 5th set when I was rooting none of the either players, Suddenly I started rooting Novak. I think it was his resolve and mental strength which won me over.

Novak djokovic is an inspiration for everyone who have lost faith in themselves due to their own negative talks or talks from people around them.
When almost all the people in the media, be it the journalist or those who put betting odds were saying that ” He has no chance against Rafa”, ” He will be too gassed for the finals ” etc his unshakable faith in his abilities was standing tall as a unbreakable wall.

He has proved it time and time again when all the stadium was against him in big matches. I remember one of his interview when he said something like ” Everyone was saying Roger Roger Roger and I was heaving Novak Novak Novak”. What an incredible mental resolve to say the least.

When tsitsipas made an amazing backhand down the line to save the match point, I thought novak would blink in the next rally which went over 15 + shots. Anyone would have blinked given the weight of the shots and occasion but this guy didn’t budged. He kept on returning everything and made a nicely placed forehand winner to finish the point.

During the match when commentator was saying ” I wonder what novak is wondering” and I was saying ” He is not wondering, He is in the present moment, living the occasion, Not thinking about the lost sets”. That is what meditation is all about and that is what he practice along with the visualization he do everyday.

Never in his mind it crossed that he will lose this match. “Everything is possible ” he said after the match.

If we can put aside our heroes for a moment and just see what this guy is doing in the sport and life in general, We will wonder in awe.

Bob Lewis Says:

It’s a shame that Nole was defaulted from US Open. So incredible that he’s able to conquer adversity time and again. His mental strength is supreme!

Rushmore: Nole, Rog, Raf, Rod?

Giles Says:

Now he can prepare his “ potions” in the trophy bowl. Should last him a while! Lol

Van Persie Says:


“It would have been a shame if Novak having slayed Rafa had went on to lose the finals.”

I think that too. And I did not want him to lose to Tsitsipas. The kid is very talented, but I do not like him very much as a person, he is a bit too arrogant for my taste. I understand that he was upset because he lost, but still, he could have behaved a bit better during the ceremony. Was he so sure, that he will win? It was not like he reached match point and missed it, has to grow up. I find Medvedev and Sascah Zverev more charismatic

Wog Boy Says:

Exactly my thoughts, there is something about Tsitsipas that turns me off.
During the ceremony he looked like he pooped in his undies, I bet Medvedev enjoyed it😉
Luckily his father wasn’t near him after he lost, otherwise he would have bashed him up like in Sydney during ATP Cup last year.

Wog Boy Says:

Your comment deserves lots of likes, you have mine.

Van Persie Says:

Second that, WB, Jatin’s post war really, really nice:)

I am still ecstatic after the weekend, I should work, cannot focus….am still reading press articles about Nole..or rewatching some points from the semifinal or final.

I guess, all Nole fans are dizzy today :)

Tennis Vagabond Says:

What a tournament from Novak. Back to back legend-building performances, and both of them really highlighting his mental strength.

He is such a giant on the tour right now, and I am really looking forward to seeing how Rafa responds. I think this was my first time rooting for Novak in a Slam final since the Murrays. He sure didn’t disappoint.

Looking back, its now past ten years since he broke out as the dominant force. He’s been really dominant in all but 2 years. 2020 was such a weird year, and maybe it gave the illusion the younger gen had more clout than they do, because Novak owns 2021 right now, and he has a bit of success at the summer season.

Looking at that 10 year record, Federer and Novak have almost identical Slam success, each 16 titles, Novak with one more final. They each had one Slam before their breakout. Fed managed 3 more slams outside the 10 years. Novak is already 2 for 2.

I would love to see Fed pull off some magic at Wimbledon. This week at Halle will be a great test. His side of the draw is stacked. He certainly gave us hope at the French that he has some wins left (I mean matches, not tournaments! Keep expectations low). Rafa also has had very good runs at Wimbledon in 2019 and 2018, so it could be a very exciting second week.

In the meantime, 10 years after breaking the duopoly, Novak is the king.

Django Says:

I am overjoyed with this win!!

jatin Says:

Thanks @Wog Boy and @Van Persie.
Enjoy the victory. :)

Wog Boy Says:

@ Bob Lewis

It’s even bigger shame that English mysteriously canceled Wimbledon when the other two GSs were played, so Nole basically missed two GSs last year.

SG1 Says:

I think Novak has pretty much sealed the GOAT discussion. when his mind is right, it takes an almost impossibly great performance to beat him. he has most weeks at number 1. most year end number 1s. think he has the most atp 1000 series titles. has a winning record against arguably, the two other best players of all time. he can play on any surface and be a threat to win. with those others two goats kicking around he managed to hold all 4 slam titles at the same time. and there’s those 19 majors and counting. he doesn’t need to exceed rafa or nadal in slam coy not to be the goat. he’s won 8 of his 19 majors against his greatest rivals. he’s played in the toughest era of the three and essentially produced equivalent and in many cases, superior results

SG1 Says:

and he’s beaten both federer and murray on their best surfaces and rafa on his. i don think rafa has ever beaten novak at wimbledon or at the AO. not sure if roger has ever beaten novak at the AO or at wimbledon. i know roger has beaten novak in a USO final.

Top story: Shaky Djokovic Gets His Revenge On Musetti, Gets De Minaur Next; Sinner v Rune