Paris – Novak Djokovic claimed his 19th Grand Slam title and became the first man in 52 years to win all four Grand Slam titles at least twice after rallying from two sets down to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in a gripping French Open final on Sunday.
The world No. 1 beat the 22-year-old Greek star, who was playing in his first Grand Slam final, 6-7 (6-8), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in 4 hours, 11 minutes.
Djokovic is now just one major away from equaling the all-time record of 20, which is held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic now has two French Open wins — having last won in 2016 — to add to his nine Australian Open wins, five Wimbledon titles and his three triumphs at the U.S. Open. The 34-year-old is the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four Grand Slams multiple times and just the third in history.
Djokovic prevailed in the final after needing over four hours to knock out Nadal, the defending champion, in the semifinals.
“It was an electric atmosphere, Djokovic said. “I want to thank everyone who has been with me on this journey.
“I have played almost nine hours over the last 48 hours against two great champions, it was really tough physically over the last three days, but I trusted in my capabilities and knew I could do it.”
Djokovic is the first man ever to win a Grand Slam title after having to rally from two sets down twice after also doing so against Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti in the last 16.
Djokovic now has 84 career titles overall and Sunday’s win pushed him to the brink of $150 million in prize money.
If Djokovic can defend his title at Wimbledon and win his fourth U.S. Open, he will become the third man to win a calendar Grand Slam, something only achieved by Don Budge in 1937 and Laver in 1962 and 1969.
Djokovic also wants to win an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo to complete the first Golden Grand Slam by a male player.
“His goal and our goal is to win the Olympics and then win the Grand Slam,” his coach, Marian Vajda, said.
Tsitsipas, meanwhile, said he was motivated to follow in Djokovic’s footsteps.
“I had a good run here so I am happy with myself,” Tsitsipas said. “Novak has shown what a great champion he is and I hope one day to have half of what he has achieved.
“I tried my best. I had a good run and I’m happy with myself.”
Tsitsipas survived a nervy opening service game where he had to save two break points.
Djokovic, by contrast, didn’t concede a point in his first three service games.
Fired up by a time violation, Djokovic broke for the first time for a 6-5 lead but was unable to serve out the opening set as Tsitsipas got even with a series of razor-sharp returns.
Tsitsipas then saw 4-0 and 5-2 leads disappear in a dramatic tiebreaker.
He had to save a set point before claiming the opener after 70 minutes when Djokovic fired a forehand wide.
Dropping the opening set was familiar territory for Djokovic at this year’s French Open.
He had to recover from two sets down to beat Musetti and lost the opener against 13-time champion Nadal on Friday.
Tsitsipas, who is 12 years younger then Djokovic, broke again in the first game of the second set as the 2016 champion looked increasingly weary in the 30-degree heat.
The Greek edged ahead 5-2 and pocketed the second set with his eighth ace of the contest.
But the top seed was not finished, breaking in the fourth game of the third set to cut into the deficit.
Tsitsipas then called the trainer to treat a back problem which also gave him the opportunity to change the clay-covered shirt he’d worn since a tumble in the first set.
Thirty minutes later, it was two sets apiece after Djokovic secured a double break.
As the shadows swept across Court Philippe Chatrier, Tsitsipas’ mood also darkened as he fell into 3-1 hole in the decider.
As the clock ticked past four hours, he fought off two more break points in the seventh game, but Djokovic was not to be denied his latest slice of history, taking the glory on his second championship point.
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