Novak Djokovic captured his second French Open title as he recovered from being outplayed for two sets by Stefanos Tsitsipas to win 6-7(6) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory on Sunday.
Djokovic’s seismic semi-final win over 13-time champion Rafa Nadal looked like being in vain as an inspired Tsitsipas moved to the brink of becoming Greece’s first Grand Slam champion.
After failing to convert a set point in an enthralling 72-minute opener full of brutal rallies and then crumbling in surprising fashion in the second set, Djokovic looked drained.
His hopes of banking a 19th Grand Slam title were hanging by a thread but he rediscovered his mojo in the nick of time to turn the match around in emphatic fashion.
The 34-year-old, who won his first French crown in 2016, rattled through the third and fourth sets as Tsitsipas, playing in his first Grand Slam final, struggled to maintain the intensity that had put him in charge.
Tsitsipas recovered from a break down to win the opening set in a tiebreak before he raced through the second set.
But Djokovic was determined to ensure that all the effort he put in to beat 13-time Roland Garros champion Nadal in the semi-finals did not go to waste and he started to assert his authority to win the third set.
Fifth seed Tsitsipas appeared to be struggling physically but valiantly tried to dig in at the start of the fifth set as the shadows spread across a sunlit Court Philippe Chatrier.
Before the start of the fourth set, the 22-year-old Greek requested the trainer to come on court to manipulate and massage his lower back.
But that intervention failed to revive Tsitsipas’ fortunes and Djokovic was virtually unchallenged in the fourth set.
The Serb broke decisively for a 2-1 lead in the decider before securing the win in four hours and 11 minutes that made him the first man since tennis turned professional in 1968 to win all four Grand Slams titles at least twice.
Photo Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates with his trophy after winning against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their final match at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 13 June 2021. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON