}

Snapshots: Novak Djokovic d. Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2021 French Open final

A Big Accomplishment in Mind

Stefanos Tsitsipas was already the youngest player ever to have tour-level wins over Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, completing the set at age 20.

On Sunday, the 22-year-old attempted to become the youngest player—and just the fifth player ever—to earn wins over the Big 3 at the Grand Slams. Tsitsipas beat Federer in the fourth round of the 2019 Australian Open, and Nadal in this year's Australian Open quarterfinals.

Believe It or Not...

Djokovic, meanwhile, was attempting to do something pretty rare himself: win right after defeating Rafa at a major. Of the last 17 players who had beaten Nadal in a Grand Slam tournament (before the final), only four won their next match.

The last time the Serb beat Nadal at Roland Garros, he won his next match, but he didn't end up winning the tournament; he lost to Stan Wawrinka in the final. But Djokovic did account for two of the four immediate follow-up wins, the other coming in the 2018 Wimbledon final.

The Fall of Djokovic?

The Serb took a sizable stumble while trying to track down a short ball from Tsitsipas in the first set.

Stefanos' Missed Opportunity?

Serving at 4-5, Djokovic began the game hitting a mid-court overhead into the net, and completely mis-hit a rally ball at 30-30. But Tsitsipas was unable to take advantage of Djokovic's generosity, the Serb winning a 26-stroke rally to save set point. Tsitsipas was broken in the very next game.

FIRST SET: Tsitsipas, 7-6 (6)

Djokovic appeared to have wrestled the set from Tsitsipas when he broke at 5-5, but he played a horrid service game to cede control. The tiebreaker followed a similar pattern: Tsitsipas hit big and bold to take a 5-2 lead, but Djokovic clawed his way back with some deft volleys and added pressure to earn a set point at 6-5.

But the final three points went the Greek's way—and this final took yet another compelling turn.

One With the Clay: Tsitsipas Takes a Two-Set Lead

Tsitsipas didn't show any nerves after taking an unexpected lead over Djokovic. Rather, he played even better.

After breaking Djokovic in the first game, Tsitsipas converted on his third break point at 4-2 for a double-break lead.

With a routine hold, Tsitsipas had a stunning result in sight, and a 7-6 (6), 6-2 advantage.

The Struggle is Real

Djokovic, the consensus top returner in tennis, got his first break of serve since the first set to lead the third 3-1.

But it wasn't easy. Four break points came and went before the Serb, donning a new, red shirt, finally took the lead thanks to a Tsitsipas error.

This Is What They Paid For

After breaking serve and consolidating with a hold, Djokovic finally sunk his teeth into the match by winning the third set, 6-3.

Still, could this final be over before the the sun begins to set on a lovely Sunday in Paris? Guessing that most of this crowd hoped not.

New Clothes, Same Problems

After taking an eight-and-a-half minute injury timeout (lower back) following the third set—and changing his clay-stained shirt—Tsitsipas returned to the terre battue and was immediately broken. Twice. With a 3-0, double-break lead, Djokovic remained behind in the overall scoreline, but felt like the clear favorite.

I Need The Fifth

With the momentum firmly on his side, Djokovic took a 4-0 lead, and finished out the set 6-2.

On the line for the world No. 1 in the fifth set: becoming the first man in the Open Era to win all four Grand Slam tournaments twice.

Nole On The Run

Djokovic boasted a 4-1 record in the five-set Grand Slam finals, his only loss coming to Andy Murray at the 2012 US Open.

Continuing to apply pressure, Djokovic earned a break point in the very first game, but Tsitsipas saved it. It was an essential hold for the 22-year-old in his first major final.

But the pressure didn't stop—and Djokovic took the next two games to nose ahead of Tsitsipas for the first time all match. He followed the break with a love hold for a 3-1 lead.

In the End, Career-Bests for Both Men

A two-set lead wasn't large enough for Tsitsipas, who didn't raise his level once Djokovic responded in the third set. While undoubtedly disappointed with the loss, it was the furthest Tsitsipas had gone at a major.

As for Djokovic, he continued his climb in the tennis record books, and is now just one Grand Slam title away from catching bothRafael Nadal and Roger Federer at 20.

Bravo, Stefanos

Despite the 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 loss, it was a day to remember for Stefanos Tsitsipas.

What Does it All Mean?

After winning a Grand Slam final from two sets down for the first time in his career (in 4:11), Novak Djokovic is the first man in the Open Era to win all four majors twice—is halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam, something none of the Big 3 have accomplished.


Yet?