Novak Djokovic claimed the second Roland Garros crown in June, battling against Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas for eight hours and 20 minutes en route to his 19th Major title. Novak came from two sets to love down against the Greek in the final to forge a marvelous victory and secure the second leg of a potential calendar Grand Slam. Last October, Djokovic and Tsitsipas played another epic duel in Paris, with the Serb prevailing in the semis after almost four hours. Novak beat Stefanos 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 en route to his 27th Major final. The Serb recalled the match ahead of this year’s duel, calling it an epic one and praising the young Greek’s effort. Tsitsipas was there to fight in the opening two sets last year, losing the crucial points to fall behind and saving a match point at 4-5 in the third to extend the encounter. The Greek stole that set and seized the fourth after fending off ten out of 11 break chances, overpowering Novak before running out of gas in the final set.
Tsitsipas followed Djokovic’s pace in the mid-range and most extended exchanges but lost ground in the shortest rallies up to four strokes. Novak scored eight breaks and gave serve away four times, starting all over in set number five to cross the finish line first and remain on the title course. Stefanos wasted four break chances in the opening game and suffered a single break to hand the set to Novak. The Serb earned two breaks in set number two and looked good to seal the deal in straight sets. Djokovic grabbed a break at 4-4 in the third set and served for the victory. Stefanos saved a match point in that tenth game and converted the 11th break opportunity to level the score at 5-5 and extend the battle.
Novak Djokovic recalled the last year’s Roland Garros semi-final.
The youngster held at 30 in the 11th game to move in front and converted the second set point at 6-5 with a forehand down the line winner to force the fourth set. The Greek worked hard to fend off ten out of 11 break chances in set number four and remain in touch after forging an early 2-0 advantage. Stefanos fended off eight break opportunities in games five, seven and nine and forced Novak to serve for staying in the set. The Serb could not endure the pressure, wasting two game points and suffering a break following a loose drop shot to hand the set to the Greek and add more drama. Starting all over, Djokovic grabbed three straight return games in the final set to move over the top and set the ultimate clash against Rafael Nadal.
“It’s not the first time I have played an epic Major semi-final, and then I have to come back in under 48 hours and play the final. My recovery abilities have been pretty good, I must say, throughout my career. My physiotherapist will try to do everything possible so I can be fresh. I have played enough tennis recently, and I do not need to train too much. It’s just about taking things slowly until the day of the title match, and I know what I have to do. Tsitsipas is in his first Major final, and it’s an outstanding achievement, although I’m sure he does not want to stop there. He is in great form, and I think he leads the ATP Race to Turin. He has had his best results recently, and I think he has matured as a player. Clay is arguably his best surface. We played an epic five-setter last year in the semis here in Paris, and I know it’s going to be another tough one. I’m hoping I can recharge my batteries as much as I can because I’m going to need power and energy for that one,” Novak Djokovic said.