French Open 2021: Djokovic claims historic double Slam in epic final

Novak Djokovic has won the 2021 French Open men's title. Photo: @rolandgarros Twitter

Novak Djokovic has made history in the French Open final, achieving a career double Grand Slam and becoming the first man to do so in the Open era.

He has become the first man to win all four Open titles twice, and in doing so claimed his 19th Grand Slam title to pull within one of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20.

The Serb achieved the feat with his second Roland Garros title, coming from two sets down to defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas in a five-set thriller.

After a scratchy opening, a thrilling conclusion to the first set developed after Djokovic saved a set point at 4-5 30-40, before holding and breaking Tsitsipas in the following game to take a commanding 6-5 lead. But the Greek 5th seed responded valiantly, breaking back to send the first to a tiebreak.

He enjoyed a 4-0 start in the tiebreak, but squandered the lead before again fighting back in thrilling fashion to claim the first set 6-7[8].

Tsitsipas’ shirt sported the marks of red clay after a tumble he took, but he still managed to claim the opening stanza in 74 entertaining minutes.

He continued on with it in the second set, over-powering the Serb from the baseline with masterful forehand strokes. Djokovic didn’t look himself with his foot movement and service speed well below its best.

A gruelling semi-final encounter with Nadal looked to be taking effect on the tired number one seed, and the ‘Rafa tax’ carried on throughout the set. Tsitsipas broke early and didn’t look back to close it out 6-2 and take a commanding two sets to love lead in his maiden Grand Slam final.

Both players came out firing in the third, holding service games as the Parisian heat started to take its toll.

A singular moment shifted the tide, with a baseline decision being incorrectly called in Tsitsipas’ favour before it was overturned by the chair umpire.

Djokovic took exception to his opponent not correcting the call that was in front of him. From there, he broke his opponent’s serve and closed out a 6-3 set win to pick up his first set and announce his intentions.

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With the tide shifting prior to the fourth set, Tsitsipas took a bathroom break. Upon his return to the court, he then took a medical timeout to treat an issue with his lower back.

The timeout didn’t translate well to the beginning of the fourth set, with Tsitsipas dropping his first service game in elementary fashion to immediately put himself on the back foot.

He allowed Djokovic to continue his good run into the third game of the set, smashing his racquet in frustration as he gave up another breakpoint opportunity to his opponent.

With the match poised at 6-7 2-6 6-3 2-0 40-40, both players gritted their teeth and played some exquisite shots to extend rallies. After Tsitsipas saved multiple breakpoints, Djokovic would finally secure the double-break advantage with an incredible drop shot from behind the baseline.

As the match entered its fourth hour of play during the fourth set, Tsitsipas lost his desire to compete for the set. He did manage to hold his serve late in the piece, which gave him the opportunity to serve first in the deciding fifth set of the Roland Garros men’s singles final.

Novak Djokovic in the fourth set of the 2021 French Open final. Photo: @rolandgarros Twitter

All was on the line in the fifth set with two sets apiece.

Djokovic searching for his second Roland Garros title to make it a double at every Grand Slam. Tsitsipas was looking to make it one-from-one in Grand Slam finals after stumbling at quarters and semis for the past few years.

Tsitsipas was 23-0 with a two sets to love lead in Grand Slams, but that would be about to change.

The vocal crowd rose to begin the decider, and the big hitting was on display as fans roared their appreciation.

Down 0-30 in his service game to open the fifth, Tsitsipas fought back hard to level it, but then gave up a break point opportunity to Djokovic. He dug in on the next point, following his serve up at the net to put away the point.

Tsitsipas was putting his emotions on display, riding the highs and lows of each point by yelling his frustrations and fist-pumping with the crowd. He incredibly found a way to hang on in the service game after consecutive deuces, producing.

The pure mental fortitude of the 18-time Grand Slam champion was at the forefront of all that was happening on the Parisian dirt at the French Open final. Djokovic continued to press forward, taking the ball on its way up and returning it with interest.

He suddenly didn’t look as tired, or even that he had been on court for three-and-a-half hours. He scrambled and slid across the court, placing balls in corners for his increasingly frustrated opponent to fetch.

While Tsitsipas looked bruised and battered, fetch them he did.

Tied at 1-1 40-40 on the Greek’s serve, Djokovic continued to extend rallies and the game went out to over six minutes of time before he finally broke to take control of French Open final.

Djokovic charged on, closing out his service game to love and taking a dominant 3-1 lead. However, the 5th seed wouldn’t go quietly, saving multiple breakpoints to hold serve at 3-2 and force Djokovic into extended rallies.

Tsitsipas fought on with incredible determination, serving brilliantly to bring the match to 5-4 in the final set.

Djokovic was forced to hold his nerve and serve out the match for a slice of history.

Tsitsipas found one of the shots of the tournament on Championship point – a scintillating down-the-line backhand winner.

But hold his nerve Djokovic did.

The legendary Serb made his second Championship point count, firing a serve out wide before following up at the net to dispatch Tsitsipas.

With that win, Djokovic has become the only man to win all four titles twice in the Open era.

Novak Djokovic [1]62666
Stefanos Tsitsipas [5]7[8]6324

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About Jasper Chellappah 161 Articles
Jasper writes on Aussie Rules, basketball, tennis and netball for The Inner Sanctum. His main area is player analysis and under-age competitions, with a keen focus on the AFL Draft. He also lends his voice to The Checkside and the SuperCoach Sanctum PODcast each week.

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