World No.1 Novak Djokovic on Sunday made an astonishing comeback from being two sets down to beat fifth seed Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in four hours and 11 minutes and win the French Open title.
It was the top seed Serb’s second French Open title and 19th Grand Slam title in all. With it, Djokovic has become the first man in the Open Era to win all four majors twice.
Exhibiting remarkable temperament, despite losing the first two sets, Djokovic, 34, rallied calmly and won the last three sets against 22-year-old Tsitsipas to walk away with the trophy.
Staging a comeback is not new to Djokovic. Sunday was the sixth time he had rallied from being two sets down, and the first time he has done it in a Grand Slam final.
Djokovic was two sets down against Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round, and then he defeated 13-time champion Rafael Nadal in the semi-final match that lasted four sets.
Before Djokovic, there have been four players in the Open Era who had rallied from being two sets down in a Roland Garros final. They were: Bjorn Borg (1974), Ivan Lendl (1984), Andre Agassi (1999), and Gaston Gaudio (2004). The only player to achieve this feat at another Grand Slam in the Open Era was Dominic Thiem, who did it at the US Open final last year.
With 19 Grand Slam titles, Djokovic is now just one title short of what his rivals Roger Federer and Nadal have achieved.
Djokovic is the first tennis player to win the Career Grand Slam twice in the Open Era, and is halfway to the calendar year Grand Slam.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic attributed his comeback in French Open final from two sets down to winning the title to a small break that helped him bury self-doubts.
After losing the first two sets 6-7(6), 2-6, the Serb left the Court Philippe-Chatrier for a break and returned a changed player as he downed fifth-seed Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas to win his second title at Roland Garros as well as his 19th Grand Slam title. Djokovic won the last three sets — 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
“To be honest, I was never really vocal when I speak to myself. I keep those internal conversations internally in my head,” Djokovic said in his post-match media conference.
“There is always two voices inside: one is telling you that you cannot do it, that it is done, it is finished. That voice was pretty strong after that second set.
“I felt that that was a time for me to actually vocalise the other voice and try to suppress the first one that was saying I cannot make it. I told myself I can do it and encouraged myself. I strongly started to repeat that inside of my mind, and tried to live it with my entire being.”
Djokovic said that slowly he got into his groove and started playing well.
“Once I started playing in that third set, especially in the first few games, I saw where my game was at, it kind of supported that second voice that was more positive, more encouraging,” he added.
“After that there was not much of a doubt for me.”
Djokovic, who also won Australian Open, is the only player in Open Era to win every Grand Slam title at least twice in his career. He is also the third player in tennis history to do it after former Australian stars Roy Emerson and Rod Laver.
“Of course, I am thrilled and very proud of this achievement. Being 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,” Djokovic said.
He called Sunday’s final victory, that he secured in over four hours, as one of the three best achievements of his life.
“This probably ranks at the top three all-time achievements and experiences that I have had in my professional tennis career: going through a four-and-a-half hour battle with Rafa Nadal on his court, then bouncing back after not practising 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,” he said.
World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost the French Open final on Sunday said he does not have any regrets as he gave it all against Novak Djokovic who won his 19th Grand Slam title.
Tsitsipas had threatened to cause an upset as he won the first two sets before the Serb world No. 1 bounced back after a break from the court to win the next three sets.
“I do not think I have regrets. I could have easily cried, but I see no reason for me crying because I tried everything. I could not come up with anything better,” said Tsitsipas, who believes he can win a Grand Slam title one day with the way he is playing.
The French Open final was the Greek’s best performance in a Grand Slam tournament.
“I believe that I am able to play for titles like this. Despite my loss today, I have faith in my game. I very much believe I can get to that point very soon. I see no reason for me not to be holding that trophy one day,” he said further.
The Greek player, who will next play the Noventi Open in Halle as the grass season gets underway, said he has to ensure he wins three sets not two in case he is faced with a similar situation.
“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,” added Tsitsipas.
“Two sets does not really mean anything. It is still one away of winning the entire match.
“I do not think I relaxed. I do not think I changed much. I just kept the same pace. I kept the things that were working for me. He left the court after two-sets-to-love down, but he came back to me like a different player suddenly.
“He played really well. He gave me no space… I kind of felt like he could read my game a bit better suddenly.”