French Open men's final as it happened - Novak Djokovic edges Stefanos Tsitsipas in five-sets to win a 19th Grand Slam
Novak Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim a 19th major title after a four hour and 11-minute thriller in the 2021 men's French Open final. The World number one beat the number five seed 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 and becomes the first man in the Open era to win all four Grand Slams twice. The Serb is now just one away from equalling Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s tied record of 20.
Novak Djokovic, sacré à Roland-Garros après sa victoire sur Stefanos Tsitsipas
Read on to see how it all developed on a hot day in Paris.
GAME, SET AND MATCH! – DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 TSITSIPAS
The comeback is complete after a rollercoaster four hours and 11 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier. Novak Djokovic nervously serves it out on his second match point from deuce to win his second French Open title and will now get ready to lift La Coupe des Mousquetaires! The Serb looked on the ropes after Set 2 but charged through several gears to completely overwhelm the 22-year-old Greek and deny him a success in his maiden major final. The world number one claims his 19th Grand Slam title and is just one away from equalling Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s tied record of 20. He also becomes the first man in the Open era to win all four Grand Slams twice and remains in the hunt for the calendar Slam.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 5-4 TSITSIPAS
Stef leans heavily on his serve to get him over the line with Djoker testing his legs regularly with the drop shot. He dumps a volley into the net for deuce but conjures up a bewitching backhand down the line before Nole lashes just long. The Serbinator will now serve for the title.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 5-3 TSITSIPAS
Djokovic is just one game from the title. He chalks up another love hold as Tsitsipas continues to miscue and fizz long. The Greek will now serve to stay in the hunt.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 4-3 TSITSIPAS
Superb. That’s courage right there. A terribly timed double fault and a loose forehand crosscourt cough up two more break points. Stef saves one with a volley at the net after winning the drop shot face-off to end a blistering rally. He then puts extra fizz on a crosscourt forehand to make deuce. Djokovic tries to lock in but, surprisingly, he’s the one to misfire as he overcooks two forehands in a row to allow Stefanos to stay in touch.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 3-2 TSITSIPAS
Stefanos keeps his fading dream alive with a hold to 30. It sounds ludicrous to suggest but did Djokovic go passive in Set 2 once he was behind because he fancied himself over five sets? His comments after beating Musetti suggest he is happy to go the distance even after the gruelling battle with Nadal. "I like to play young guys in the best-of-five because even at two sets down, I feel I still have my chances," Djokovic said. "I have won most of my five-setters and that experience helps.”
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 3-1 TSITSIPAS
The No.5 seed looks lost. The unforced errors have been leaking off his racket far too often and he can’t make any impact on the return. A love hold consolidates it for Novak and he’s got one hand on the trophy.
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 2-1 TSITSIPAS
It looks bleak for Stefanos when Djokovic scampers to the net and somehow digs out the most sublime recovery shot to lead 15-30. The Athenian finds a good serve and follows up with a smart drop shot but Nole nails a return winner and goes on the attack from deuce. The Serb seems to have al of the answers and laughs off a wonder shot from his opponent when a tough backhand clips the baseline. Again, Stef can’t quite fend him off and he fires off court when another precision strike lands too close to his feet.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 1-1 TSITSIPAS
The world number one knows how big the game is and shows his opponent there’s plenty left in his tank with his fastest serve of the contest so far to make 30-0. He then blazes a soft ball wide to give Tsitsipas a glimmer of hope but the Greek can’t apply any heat and we are all square in the fledgling moments of this crucial set.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 0-1 TSITSIPAS
Boy, did he need that! Tsitsipas looks on the verge of being outclassed and a tad lost at 0-30 but an ace down the middle T gives him a timely lift and a barrage of big forehands wrong-foot Djoker twice to help him make deuce from break point down. The serve continues to fire and there are huge cheers from the crowd as the No.5 seed gets out of dodge. He has the scoreboard advantage he desperately craved.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 TSITSIPAS
The world number one sizzles a backhand down the line to claim the set and push us into what seemed like an inevitable decider as far back as when he broke in Set 3! Can Tsitsipas somehow switch the momentum back his way. It’s looking like a tall order….
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 5-2 TSITSIPAS
The Greek is at least keeping his service rhythm ticking over so he’s ready to rock in Set 5. Djokovic will now look to serve out this one.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 5-1 TSITSIPAS
He’s one away. Tsitsipas offers little resistance as he hits a tired backhand into the net. It’s another love hold….
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 4-1 TSITSIPAS
Stefanos gets on the board with a love hold. It’s the calm before the storm of the decider as Djokovic lets go of his laser-like precision and coughs up a surprising error down the line. The Greek finds his serve again to lash down an ace and keep some sort of belief. Djoker will now look to put the final touches to this set before we the one-set shoot-out.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 4-0 TSITSIPAS
Fight backs are great but only if there’s a bit of jeopardy about it. When it becomes so one-sided it just feels like more a damp squib. Djoker is barely missing now. He backs up the double break to love.
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 3-0 TSITSIPAS
We see a bit of Tsitsipas from Sets 1 and 2 as he battles hard to stave off another break point. There are some wonderful exchanges but it’s Novak who again bosses it big time! A delicious drop shot bamboozles the Greek on a third BP and with the double break, you’d expect the anticipated decider is definitely going to happen now.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 2-0 TSITSIPAS
It’s rapid now. It’s not quite a Lorenzo-Musetti-style implosion but it’s very one-sided at present. Djokovic is clam, collected and taking cheap points quickly. He consolidates with ease and a second French Open title is looking very much on again now.
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 1-0 TSITSIPAS
Oh dear. It’s going pear-shaped rapidly all of a sudden for Stefanos. Djokovic doesn’t have to do much as the Greek fizzes two forehands long before coughing up a timid break with a poorly controlled backhand. This has Djokovic in five written all over it. Can the No.5 seed get his mojo back to stop it?
SET! - DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 6-3 TSITSIPAS
It’s close but not cigar for Stef. He sizzles a forehand and benefits from a careless double fault to apply heat at 30-30. Djokovic finds a ferocious forehand on the run to somehow avoid break point and then rifles another up the line off the same wing to take us into a fourth set.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 5-3 TSITSIPAS
Stefanos poses that serve-out question but he has to work very hard to do so. The Greek roars back from 0-30 to finish off a plucky hold via some exceptional foot work and quick hands at the net before thumping a forehand winner.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 5-2 TSITSIPAS
The Serbinator digs in from 15-30 down after a crunching forehand to his right wing had breached his defences. Nole produces a bewitching drop shot at 30-30 and traps Stef in his forehand corner to move within a game of taking Set 3.
Stefanos shifts his neck and moves his arm to suggest his back was a bit tight after back-to-back double faults put him in trouble at 15-30. He manages to adjust in timely fashion and reels off a trio of fine serves to stay just the one break behind.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 4-1 TSITSIPAS
The 18-time Grand Slam champion consolidates to 15 and is on course to reduce the deficit. Tsitsipas cannot afford to let the Serb feed on any good vibes here. He needs to reassert his authority and make a set of it.
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 3-1 TSITSIPAS
Here we go! Tsitsipas looks so assured at 40-15 but Djoker goes big on a backhand up the line and suddenly finds an extra gear. Stef feels the pressure at deuce and sizzles a backhand wide. He saves it with a wonderful dropshot-crosscourt pass combo and continues to find Greek God mode on two more. Djokovic pounds away at the younger man’s defences but then arrows into the tramlines as he went for the kill on the fourth opportunity. The momentum briefly sways the way of Tsitsipas but the intense strain proves too much and the top seed earns the error on his fifth chance to breakthrough. Match on?
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 2-1 TSITSIPAS
There are very real signs of life with Nole. He’s forced to fight hard at 30-30 when Stefanos lashes a wrong-footing forehand to crank up the heat at 30-30. The Greek then unloads a forehand just long under pressure before the world number one corks a sparkling crosscourt forehand to keep nudging the board in his favour.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 1-1 TSITSIPAS
A pair of aces and that forehand once again work a treat for the No.5 seed as he keeps the Nole return train in the station with a focused hold to 30.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 1-0 TSITSIPAS
Djokovic inevitably left court between sets and it’s no surprise to see him come back with the switch flicked on. He eases to a hold to 15 and he’ll be eager to make some early inroads to fuel his belief.
SET! - DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-6 TSITSIPAS
That’s a strange old return game from Djokovic but Stef won’t mind. The Serb doesn’t come close to piling on the heat and the 22-year-old from Athens serves it out to 15 to take a two-set lead. He’s just one away from a maiden Slam. Djokovic will need to do it in five now.
BREAK! - DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-5 TSITSIPAS
Incredible! Tsitsipas secures the double break when Djoker goes too big on a forehand on a third break point and rifles it into the net. The Serb had got out of jail from double break point down as the No.5 seed’s forehand on the second clipped the net and dropped just out. Is Djokovic simply tired from his exertions against Nadal? Or will we see him come flying back as has been the case in the past?
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-4 TSITSIPAS
Stefanos matches him though. The Greek charges to a perfect hold, slamming down ace number eight to finish.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 2-3 TSITSIPAS
Lull over? It appears to be the case as the Serb nails a third ace and realigns the radar for incredulous depth to rattle to a love hold.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 1-3 TSITSIPAS
That was too good. You can make all the excuses for Djokovic by searching for reasons why he has dipped but he’s second best at present. It most probably won’t last but Tsitsipas continues to focus on his own game and charges through an effective hold to 15 to maintain his advantage.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 1-2 TSITSIPAS
Nole gets himself on the board. A bewitching drop shot and some delightful hand skills close to the net set him on his way before a big serve down the T seals the hold to 15.
DJOKOVIC 6-7 0-2 TSITSIPAS
It’s a real battle but Stefanos finds a perfect one-two punch to consolidate from deuce. The Greek plays catch up but is helped along by more misfiring from Djokovic. It’s most notable on that inability to put away another overhead but he still has a look at the break-back from 15-30 and deuce. Stef won’t let it slip at present though and clutch serving and a purring forehand see him through the danger.
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 6-7 0-1 TSITSIPAS
What a start to Set 2! It’s a dreadful game from Novak’s perspective. He follows up a double fault with terrible drive volley long, once again struggling to handle the high ball in the air. A rasping wrong-footing forehand from Tsitsipas gives him three bites at the beak and he gets it done on the second of those when his power again forces Nole to flash long.
SET! - DJOKOVIC 6-7 TSITSIPAS
The Greek takes an epic opener after one hour and eight minutes. A scorching inside-out forehand conjures up a second set point at 7-6 in the breaker and he overpowers Nole in the ensuing rally to force and error wide and claim it 8-6. The world number one came from a set down to sink Nadal on Friday – and he’s going to have to do it again here.
Tsitsipas hammers a wonderful forehand winner up the line to lead 5-2. Djoker moves up to full throttle to take four points on the spin but does get very, very lucky with a block at the net that tickles the tape and somehow drops over. Stefanos is 5-6 down on his second serve but finds a brilliant forehand to the Serb’s right corner to level. Its 6-6 and another change of ends.
Tsitsipas flies out of the traps and takes advantage of a double fault and some clear but strange wobbles from the world number one. The Greek takes charge at 4-0 but Novak gets it together with a strong point to glide into the net and grab a mini break back. He then conjures up a delightful drop shot to trail 4-2 at the change of ends.
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 6-6 TSITSIPAS
Wow! That is unexpected. Djokovic appears to have made an issue out of looking towards the glare of the sun and is blinking like crazy. It’s no excuse for poor-decision-making though. A poor drop shot barely makes the net and Stefanos forces an error with a huge return to clock up triple break back point. He gets it on the second as another howitzer of a forehand gets the error. We are heading into a tie break!
BREAK! – DJOKOVIC 6-5 TSITSIPAS
You’ve read this script before. Djokovic springs from desperate defence in his last game into full-on attack mode. Tsitsipas gets rattled following a time violation and begins to unravel from 30-15 up. The errors leak off his racket and he can’t find the solution. Djokovic breaks and will serve for a set where he has been dominant, one or two games aside.
DJOKOVIC 5-5 TSITSIPAS
A Djoko-smash, so-called for the Serb’s occasional propensity to blow a very make-able overhead, opens a game where the world number one has to showcase his extraordinary defensive skills. He coughs up a set point when he shanks a forehand way off court via the top of the racket frame. Tsitsipas settles in to press but Djokovic soaks up all pressure and somehow survives. He’s made a career out of that sort of hold.
DJOKOVIC 4-5 TSITSIPAS
What a point! Stefanos slides into the net to produce acute angle on the crosscourt flick. Djoker retrieves it from way off court but the Greek is already on his way back to his own baseline and swivels quite brilliantly to flash a winner into the open court. It’s a convincing love hold and just the type of steely-focus he needs at this juncture in an opener where he’s had to come up with more answers than his opponent.
DJOKOVIC 4-4 TSITSIPAS
It’s not as straight-forward this time but still no alarm bells as Djoker achieves parity with the game to 15. His fizzing forehand into the Tsitsipas backhand is drawing mid-court responses and he’s reaping plenty of rewards there. Stef is going to have to make an adjustment to try and stop that being the obvious go-to play for the Serb.
DJOKOVIC 3-4 TSITSIPAS
Nole’s pride takes a hit as Stef chases down a drop shot and flicks it crosscourt. Djokovic desperately keeps going and trips close to the right end of the net before tumbling over. He gets to his feet and should be okay but needs to dust a chunk of red clay off his attire. When play resumes the 18-time major winner slaps a return into the net and Tsitsipas chalks up his fourth hold.
DJOKOVIC 3-3 TSITSIPAS
That’s three love holds on the spin for the Serb and if you’re in the Tsitsipas corner you have to be concerned that he’s getting absolutely no read on that first serve. The top seed corks down a wide ace – his first of the match – to breeze level once more.
DJOKOVIC 2-3 TSITSIPAS
The Athenian recovers from a mini lull as a loopy, long forehand after being caught wondering about a deep response from Djoker and an overcooked forehand put him under pressure at 30-30. Ace number five puts him back in control before Nole helps him out with a miss-hit crosscourt backhand. It's been advantage Novak so far, but Tsitsipas remains on serve.
DJOKOVIC 2-2 TSITSIPAS
The Serbinator has got that first serve dialled in right from the off. He’s barely giving Stef a sniff. When he does miss one he conjures up a beauty of a drop shot to notch up love hold number two.
DJOKOVIC 1-2 TSITSIPAS
That’s more like it. Tsitsipas produces a provisional blueprint for how to try and upset Djoker here. He drags himself from side to side and rifles forehand winners to the opposite corner of the court. A fourth ace down the T is a brilliant way to conclude a very tidy hold to 15.
DJOKOVIC 1-1 TSITSIPAS
No such drama for the world number one. He’s clearly looking for a fast start to set the tone here and romps to a love hold.
DJOKOVIC 0-1 TSITSIPAS
It’s nervy and it’s inconsistent from Tsitsipas after he opens with twitchy double fault. Djokovic dictates for much of what turns into a rather significant seven-minute opening game. The Serb produces a stunning crosscourt return winner to notch up a break point but Stefanos responds with a brilliant backhand up the line. Djoker gets lucky with a desperate defensive lob that somehow drops in and catches the Greek out to earn a second chance. Tsitsipas knows he needs some clutch serving to make life easier and thunders down three aces in a row to surely blow away those butterflies.
Was this one of the greatest matches ever to be played on clay?
Highlights: Djokovic overcomes Nadal in classic battle in Paris
Djokovic has won five of the seven previous meetings. The Serb has come out on top in their three showdowns on clay. He came from behind to triumph in the Rome Masters semi final recently and also prevailed in five sets in the last four at this tournament last year.
'These matches change the course of history' - Ivanovic on Djokovic, Nadal and GOAT debate
Is it Tsitsipas' time?
Tsitsipas is the first Greek player to contest a major final. He currently leads the Race to Turin. The 22-year-old starlet has also been majestic on clay this year. He won titles in Monte Carlo and Lyon and came close to upsetting Nadal in the final in Barcelona.
He remains upbeat about his chances. He said: “It's time for me to go for my chances. It's time for me to show that I'm capable of playing Novak."
Djokovic: "Obviously it is Tsitsipas' first time in the finals of a Grand Slam. For him it’s a great achievement, but I’m sure he doesn’t want to stop there. He’s in great form. I think he leads the race rankings this year. He’s had his best results overall. I think he matured as a player a lot. Clay is arguably his best surface."
The Men's final will see Novak Djokovic go head-to-head with Stefanos Tsitsipas at Roland Garros.