Weary Djokovic Takes French After Falling 2 Sets Behind

Serbian star is a single major title away from tying Nadal and Federer
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 13, 2021 1:10 PM CDT
Djokovic Rebounds to Take French Open, Nearing Record
Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts after winning the French Open in Paris.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Novak Djokovic was not about to concede a thing after dropping the first two sets of the French Open final against his younger, fresher foe, Stefanos Tsitsipas. Djokovic looked diminished and depleted at the outset Sunday. By the end, he was at his imperious best. The top-seeded Djokovic came all the way back to beat the fifth-seeded Tsitsipas 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 for his second championship at Roland Garros and 19th Grand Slam title overall. "It was not easy for me, both physically and mentally," Djokovic said, "especially over the past two or three days." Djokovic is now just one major trophy away from tying the men’s record of 20 shared by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the AP reports. And reigning Australian Open champion Djokovic now stands halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam, something no man has accomplished since Rod Laver in 1969.

The 34-year-old Djokovic eliminated 13-time French Open champion Nadal—a challenge the Serb likened to scaling Mt. Everest — in a semifinal Friday night. Both matches lasted a full four hours. "I played a lot of tennis in the past 48 hours against two great champions,” Djokovic said Sunday, per the New York Times. In the final, the 22-year-old Tsitsipas had the upper hand for two sets. Eventually, Djokovic started making fewer mistakes, got his best-in-the-game returning on track, and served so flawlessly down the stretch that he did not face a single break point over the last three sets. That enabled him to complete his sixth career comeback from two sets down—and second of the past week. Indeed, the International Tennis Federation said Djokovic—who trailed 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti two sets to none in the fourth round—is the first man in the professional era to win a Grand Slam tournament after twice facing a 2-0 deficit in sets.

(More French Open stories.)

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