'Novak Djokovic made two outstanding comebacks in Paris,' says doubles legend
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 1903
Novak Djokovic scored 27 wins in 28 matches at Majors in 2021, winning the first three Major titles and losing the US Open final to stay away from a calendar Grand Slam. Djokovic's 19th Major crown came at Roland Garros, conquering his first trophy in Paris in five years after beating Rafael Nadal and two rivals from two sets to love down!
Novak lost the opening two sets in the tie break against the young Italian Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round, staying calm and storming over the opponent in the following three sets to advance into the last eight. The Serb delivered Rafael Nadal's third Roland Garros defeat in the semis, prevailing in four sets after four hours and 11 minutes to advance into the sixth final in Paris.
Facing Stefanos Tsitsipas in the title clash, Djokovic dropped the opening two sets before earning a 6-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win that secured his 19th Major crown and the second of the season. Thus, Novak became the sixth player in the Open era who came from two sets to love down in a Major final and moved one Major short of Federer and Nadal.
Praising the Serb, Todd Woodbridge said it was a masterclass performance in the last three sets, especially after doing the same against Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round. Novak became the first player in the Open era with two titles at all four Majors, never losing ground in the final and raising his level to leave Stefanos behind.
Djokovic lost serve thrice in the opening two sets before shifting into a higher gear, dominating on serve and return in the remaining three to extend his dominance at Majors in the past ten years. Tsitsipas saved two break points in the opening game and earned a set point in the tenth game that Djokovic erased to prolong the action.
They traded breaks in games 11 and 12, and Novak returned from 5-2 down in the breaker to earn a set point. Stefanos saved it with a forehand down the line winner and grabbed the crucial mini-break at 7-6 to wrap up the opening set in just under 70 minutes.
Carried by this boost, the Greek was the only player on the court in set number two, penetrating Djokovic's defense and taming his strokes nicely to forge the advantage.
Todd Woodbridge praised Novak Djokovic's mental strength at Roland Garros.
Stefanos lost five points behind the initial shot and clinched two breaks for a massive two sets to love lead.
Like nothing happened, Novak regained his strokes and started all over in the third, serving well and keeping the pressure on the other side of the net. The Serb seized the fifth break chance in the fourth game and defended the advantage to take the set 6-3 and become the favorite.
Hitting the zone, Djokovic was even more dominant in the fourth, firing 14 winners and losing three points behind the initial shot. Stefanos could not follow that pace and suffered breaks in games one and three to fall 6-2 and drift further away from the finish line.
The Greek wasted a couple of game points at 1-1, and he could not afford that, as Novak broke him to build the advantage. Stefanos faced troubles again at 2-4, erasing two break chances and bringing the game home to remain within one break deficit.
Djokovic held at love in the eighth game to stay ahead, losing 14 points in his games from set number three and taking another step towards the triumph. Tsitsipas held after deuce in the ninth game to extend the duel before Novak brought the victory home on his serve at 5-4 to start a massive celebration.
"The Golden Slam is very much on the cards; there is no doubt about that. What Novak managed to produce in Paris, in two comebacks from two sets to love down, is some of the best mental stuff you'll ever see. Now, he does get a bit extreme at times on the court, but he's an athlete who can focus on what he needs to do to get the result done.
Coming from two sets to love down against Stefanos Tsitsipas was a fantastic effort. And he's just freshening up; he is down in Mallorca on grass courts to get ready for Wimbledon. He most definitely goes as a heavy favorite at Wimbledon," Todd Woodbridge said.