Novak Djokovic Fights Back In Four-Hour Roller-Coaster To Win French Open - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Fights Back In Four-Hour Roller-Coaster To Win French Open

In the blistering French heat Djokovic battled back from the brink to win Roland Garros for only the second time in his career.

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Novak Djokovic (image via French Open Twitter)

Novak Djokovic has claimed his 19th Grand Slam title at the French Open after battling back from two sets down to defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7(7), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, in what was a dramatic final.

 

The world No.1 looked at times to be far from his best as he remained emotionless throughout the majority of the final. Prompting a theory that he might have been still physically struggling following his clash with Rafael Nadal two days prior. Nevertheless, he weathered the storm with the help of 56 winners as he broke five times to claim only his second title at Roland Garros. Becoming the third oldest man in the Open Era to win the tournament.

“This is, once again, a dream come true,” Djokovic said moments after winning the match.
“I think to my team, my family, my physio, everyone. It’s difficult to win titles against great players. (The past) three days have been so difficult physically and mentally.”

Taking to the court for what was their eighth Tour meeting, the showdown started with a nail-biting 68-minute opening set which saw both players having opportunities. Tsitsipas withstood a seven-minute opening service game to settle his nerves against a fiery Djokovic who impressively dropped just two points during his first four service games. The Greek had his first set point chance to seal a 6-4 lead but failed to convert during an epic 24-shot rally. Two games later Djokovic had a chance of his own to clinch the opener after breaking for 6-5. However, the Serbian looked to be struggling with his eyes and ending up getting broken himself.

The roller-coaster continued into the tiebreak with Tsitsipas once again opening up a lead (4-0) before his rival fought back to draw level. Facing a set point for the first time at 5-6, he saved it with a deep forehand winner. Two points later he eventually prevailed with the help of a Djokovic unforced error.

Heading into the second frame, the world No.5 broke right away as his rival started to look increasingly flat and sluggish on the court. Even when he went down a double break the usual outburst of emotion was nowhere to be seen for Djokovic. Meanwhile, a confident Tsitsipas stuck to his game plan as he rallied to a 5-2 lead before sealing the second set with a 195 MP/H serve down the centre of the court.

The comeback

With his back up against the wall and playing more freely, it wasn’t until the third set where Djokovic regained momentum. During a marathon Tsitsipas service game, he prevailed on his fifth break point opportunity to open up a 3-1 lead. Enough of a margin for him to seal the set and revive his hopes of a second French Open crown.

As the tides began to turn, Tsitsipas took a medical time out to have work conducted on his lower back as he started to show signs of fatigue. Reminiscent of Djokovic’s clash with Lorenzo Musetti earlier in the tournament where he also came back from two sets down before the Italian was forced to retire in the decider.

Upon resumption Djokovic continued to battle emphatically back as he took the final into a decider. Something which hadn’t happened in the men’s tournament since 2004. Three games into the fifth set he struck once again with the help of a deep shot which forced Tsitsipas to return the ball out. Giving him the vital break for 3-1. Edging closer towards the finish line he still had to contend with some audacious play coming from across the court. Djokovic earned his first championship point with the help of a 197 mph serve which was his quickest of the match. Only to be denied by a sublime Tsitsipas backhand winner. However, he prevailed on his second attempt with a forehand volley at the net.

“These are the kind of occasions you can learn from the most,” Djokovic said in tribute to Tsitsipas. “Knowing him and his team, he’s gonna come out much stronger from this match. I definitely believe he is going to win many Grand Slams in the future.”

After coming close to his first Grand Slam title, Tsitsipas can seek some comfort in the fact he will rise to a new ranking high of fourth on Monday.

“It was a good first time playing here in the final. I’ve had a good run and I’m happy with myself but let’s give it to Novak because he has shown us over the last couple of years what a great champion he is,” said the Greek.
“I’m actually inspired by the things I have achieved here (in Paris) and I hope one day I can maybe do half of what he (Djokovic) has done.”

The triumph has made Djokovic the first man in the Open Era to have won every Grand Slam title at least twice. He is just one major title away from drawing level with Nadal and Roger Federer for the most ever won by an ATP player. The 34-year-old is also the first player to have won seven Grand Slam titles after turning 30.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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