<
>

French Open 2021: Four keys to Novak Djokovic's victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas

play
Djokovic credits young fan for inspiring him to win 19th major (0:57)

Novak Djokovic says he gave his racquet to a young fan for encouraging him throughout the French Open final. (0:57)

Novak Djokovic won his 19th major title and second at Roland Garros on Sunday with a comeback victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. He is now just one Grand Slam title away from tying Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer's record of 20.

Despite being the overwhelming favorite entering the match, Djokovic struggled early as it remained to be seen if he had anything left mentally and physically after his grueling semifinal victory over Nadal on Friday.

But after falling into a 0-2 hole, Djokovic rallied for the victory in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Court Philippe Chatrier.

How did Djokovic pull it off? Here are some keys to his victory.

Comfortable being uncomfortable

Djokovic's victory marked just the sixth time in the Open era a player has come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a major title. But it wasn't the first time during this fortnight that Djokovic found himself against the ropes. He fell into the same 0-2 hole against Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round.

After that match, Djokovic said he enjoyed the experience because he knew he had the edge against younger players in a best-of-five match.

"I like to play young guys in best-of-five, because I feel even if they are leading a set or two sets to love as it was the case today, I still like my chances, because I feel like I'm physically fit and, you know, I know how to wear my opponent down, you know, in the best-of-five match," Djokovic said after the win over Musetti. "And, you know, I've won most of the five-setters I have played in this tournament and in my career, so I think that experience helps."

That same mentality and toughness was very much on display Sunday. He remained composed and took control of the match in the third set against Tsitsipas and never looked back.

Conditioning paying off

As Djokovic said after beating Musetti, he's fit. On Sunday, he showed he can take some bruises, too.

Djokovic had a scary moment in the first set when he tripped trying to get to a drop shot and fell hard to the ground. It took him a moment to get up and it was initially unclear if there were any injuries. But by the end of the four-hour, 11-minute match, it was the 34-year-old who seemed as if he could keep playing if need be.

Djokovic dominated Tsitsipas in the longer rallies in the final two sets, winning 34 of 55 rallies that lasted more than five shots.

Rediscovering the second serve

While Djokovic struggled with his second serve in the opening two sets, his comeback began as soon as he improved in that category.

Djokovic won 73% of points on his second serve in the third set, and 80% in the fourth set -- compared to 25% and 50% in the first and second, respectively. It jump-started his rhythm and brought him back into the match.

Fifth-set nerves for his opponent

Perhaps aware that his opportunity to win his first Grand Slam was rapidly slipping away, Tsitsipas had 16 unforced errors and a double fault in the decider. As Tsitsipas couldn't find the same rhythm he had shown throughout the tournament with his booming serve, Djokovic seized on his opponent's weaknesses and solidly closed out the match. (Djokovic had eight unforced errors in the final set and no double faults.)