Novak Djokovic in the 2021 Final of Roland Garros, Paris, France
Novak Djokovic in the 2021 Final of Roland Garros, Paris, France | (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Tennis | Roland Garros 2021 | Djokovic closes the gap on Federer & Nadal

  • Novak Djokovic [1] def. Stefanos Tsitsipas [5] 6-7(6) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4
  • He is now just one major title behind both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
PARIS, FRANCE – The curtain comes down on Roland Garros with Novak Djokovic making history again, winning all four Grand Slams twice.


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Novak Djokovic [1] def. Stefanos Tsitsipas [5] 6-7(6) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4

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Whatever happened in the 2021 Roland Garros final, history was about to be made. Either Greece was going to have their first Grand Slam champion in Stefanos Tsitsipas, or Novak Djokovic was going to be the man to win all four Grand Slams twice.

But after an edgy first set, where he looked ill at ease, especially after losing the first set tie-break, Tsitsipas looked like he was born to be there, taking control of the second set.

The Greek was no Lorenzo Musetti and It was going to be extremely unlikely that he would simply run out of steam in the end. That being said it is worth remembering that after a similarly strong start in the semi-finals against Alexander Zverev, he wilted in the next few sets and actually looked down and out, pulling out a remarkable win in the fifth.

Djokovic took every advantage of that inevitable dip in Tsitsipas’ form, and got that crucial break advantage, holding on to it to give himself a fighting chance of continuing in the conversation.

The form further deteriorated for the Greek as Djokovic ploughed through the fourth set, as Tsitsipas tried to muster the kind of serving that got him through the first two sets. Djokovic kept pushing though, making good on a second break point chance to take the lead and it was enough to get over the line for his 19th Grand Slam title


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‘My own authentic path’

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History was reached, and still beckons for Djokovic, as he now the first man in the Open Era to win all four Slams twice (so far) and in a delayed Olympic year and as the undoubted favourite for both Wimbledon and the US Open – just what could the end of the year bring?

He told reporters: “I am thrilled and I’m very proud of this achievement. I think 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.”

Of course, this could have gone very differently given the fast start that Tsitsipas had, and Djokovic mist certainly had his own demons to overcome in that final.

“There’s always two voices inside: there is one telling you that you can’t do it, that it’s done, it’s finished. That voice was pretty strong after that second set. So I felt that that was a time for me to actually vocalize the other voice and try to suppress the first one that was saying I can’t make it.

“I told myself I can do it, encouraged myself. I strongly started to repeat that inside of my mind, tried to live it with my entire being. Once I started playing in that third set, especially in the first few games, I saw where my game is at, it kind of supported that second voice that was more positive, more encouraging. Yeah, after that there was not much of a doubt for me.”

So … about that chance to actually overtake Federer and Nadal by the end of the year?

“We all have still opportunities at Wimbledon, all the other slams. You have four slams a year, so we’re all competing for this amazing achievement and amazing trophies. I’ll keep on going. I’ll keep on chasing. At the same time I’ll keep on paving my own path, which is my own authentic path. We all three of us have our own journeys, and that’s it.”

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Spare a thought for the court-side philosopher, Tsitsipas. It hurts now, but it just shows that he has the sticking power to be lifting one of those trophies, and when it comes to beating the Big Three in a final, he has certainly come the closest from the next generation to push one of them to the limit.

He said: “I’m 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 was close today. Every opponent is difficult. There’s a small difference between the player I played today and the ones from before. But I think with the same attitude and the same — if I don’t downgrade myself, I see no reason for me not to be holding that trophy one day.”


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