'Insane': Novak Djokovic stuns tennis with 'ridiculous' French Open act

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·5-min read
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Pictured here, Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his 19th major title at the French Open.
Novak Djokovic's 19th major title also saw him complete the career Grand Slam for the second time. Pic: Getty

Novak Djokovic has pulled within one major of the men's all-time record after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in one of the most extraordinary French Open finals comebacks of all time.

The World No.1 dug deeper than perhaps ever before in his stellar career, fighting back from two sets down to beat final debutant Tsitsipas for his 19th grand slam singles title.

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A win at Wimbledon next month could see him equal the record of 20 major titles that men's rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal share. 

Djokovic could have been forgiven for his slow start after coming through an epic semi-final battle against 13-time French Open champion Nadal, in a match many described as one of the greatest of all time.

However, even at 34, the Serb proved yet again why he is simply one the greatest players tennis has ever seen as he summoned all of his fighting powers to prevail 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 against a man 12 years his junior.

By the end, as the old master started to outplay the weary Tsitsipas to win a second French crown after his 2016 triumph, it really did resemble a serial champ in his 29th grand slam final against a wannabe in his first.

It all set up the tantalising prospect of another milestone year for Djokovic as he became only the third man after Australian greats Rod Laver and Roy Emerson to win all four of the grand slams more than once.

The remarkable feat and the manner in which the World No.1 achieved it, left tennis fans in awe and disbelief on social media.

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Djokovic's incredible four-set semi-final win had taken him four hours 11 minutes and, eerily, the final was exactly the same length, even if it didn't quite match the breathtaking quality of Friday's masterpiece.

"I am thrilled and I'm very proud. Making history in the sport that I love with all my heart is always something very inspiring and fulfilling for me. I couldn't be happier."

He's also now just one major title behind Nadal and Roger Federer, who both have 20 slams, and will target a calendar year 'golden' grand slam - a unique achievement in the men's game - of the four majors and the Olympics.

"Everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the golden Slam," smiled Djokovic.

Seen here, Novak Djokovic consoles beaten French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Novak Djokovic's experience eventually told against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final at Roland Garros. Pic: Getty

World No.1 lifted after rocky start

Djokovic admitted the back-to-back wins over 48 hours against Nadal and now Tsitsipas were among his three greatest experiences in professional tennis.

That was despite blowing the chance to serve out for the first set at 6-5, and missing out on a set point in the tiebreak, allowing Tsitsipas to pounce.

He'd also taken a first set tumble, chasing down a drop shot in vain, and reckoned it affected his rhythm for the next half-hour.

After a woeful second set, though, he disappeared to the locker room, only for his two internal voices - one telling him he couldn't win and the other that he would - to have a debate.

Naturally, the positive Djokovic alter ego won.

"I told myself, 'I can do it', strongly repeated it and tried to live it with my entire being. I came back as a different player. Just refreshed, I felt like I got into his head," said the Serb, who scrapped for his life in an 11-and-a-half minute fourth game, which he finally annexed on his fifth break point.

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The Greek called for the trainer to treat a hip blockage at the end of the third and Djokovic, scenting blood, raced into a 4-0 lead before levelling the match.

With his amazing winning record of 34-10 in five-setters and having five times won from two sets down before, Djokovic was now irresistible, physically fresher and tormenting Tsitsipas with drop shots.

He eventually served out for victory, rather nervously, becoming the first men's champion ever to make two successful fightbacks from two sets down in the same grand slam, following his last-16 win over Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

"Novak, you continue to change the way we look at this sport," former champion Jim Courier told him at the presentation - and the world of tennis could only concur.

with agencies

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