World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was full of praise for Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas following their clash at the French Open. Djokovic, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, edged out No. 5 seed Tsitsipas 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1 to reach the final at the French Open.
Djokovic appeared to be cruising toward a comfortable straight-set win but Tsitsipas refused to give up and in the end fell just short of making a comeback. Tsitsipas was down 5-4 in the third set and Djokovic was serving for the match when the Greek saved a match point and claimed back-to-back breaks to steal the third set.
The Greek then came up big in the key moments of the fourth set as he broke Djokovic in the 10th game to force a decider. Tsitsipas ran out of gas in the fifth set as Djokovic won six games in a row in the decider to finish the match in style.
"He’s a fighter. He’s one of the best players in the world. Deservedly so. Obviously he was also fighting for his first Grand Slam final. There was a lot at stake for him. He was motivated to try to turn the match around, which he did very well," Djokovic said of Tsitsipas, per Max Gao.
"In the end I think he ran out of gas. That’s when I stepped it up, used my opportunities when they were presented in the fifth, and closed out the match in a great fashion."
Djokovic admitted he could have finished the match earlier
"Credit to him for fighting back.
He just played terrific tennis, especially in the fourth set when he was facing break points. I had many opportunities to break his serve in the fourth and finish the match earlier. He's a fighter," Djokovic added, per Tennis Now.
Winning the match in straight sets would have certainly given the Serb more time to recover for the French Open final against No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal. But the Serb claimed he was feeling fine after a five-setter against Tsitsipas and insisted he would be ready for the final against Nadal.
"I'm not feeling exhausted physically so much after tonight's match, obviously almost four hours. It was a great battle. But I feel fine. I think a day and a half will be plenty of time for me to recover. I'm really looking forward to a great battle with Rafa," Djokovic claimed.