World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, trailing No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas two sets to none, downed the Greek 6-7 (6/8), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in 4 hours and 11 minutes to claim his second French Open and 19th Grand Slam title Sunday.
Djokovic (34) is now just one point behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, whom he defeated in the semifinals, in the race for the number of Grand Slam trophies.
The Serb also becomes the first player in the Open Era (since 1968) to win at least twice each of the four major tournaments, the third in history after Australians Roy Emerson and Rod Laver.
Djokovic had won a first time at the French Open in 2016.
“I played two great champions in less than 48 hours, it was very difficult physically and mentally for me these last two, three days,” he said.
“I managed to stay present mentally even when I was down two sets to none, it’s a dream come true again,” he added.
Now the only player to have beaten Nadal twice at Roland Garros, Djokovic nearly relived the 2015 mishap, when after eliminating the Spaniard, then in the quarterfinals, he was upset in the final by Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka.
On the sun-drenched Philippe Chatrier court, Tsitsipas (22) was briefly betrayed by his nerves when he double-faulted at the start. But once two break points had been saved and three aces in a row had been hit to take the first game, the young Greek, for the first time in his career in a major final, held off “Nole” perfectly in the first set.
He seemed to break at the worst moment, at 5-all, not without having had a set point in the previous game, but he immediately came back and, in the tiebreak, found the resources to erase a set point in favor of Djokovic (at 6-5) before converting his second chance.
It was already over an hour into the match, and Tsitsipas was about to accelerate. In the second set, he maintained his intensity and committed only two unforced errors to move within one set of his first Grand Slam title.
Djoko wakes up
Was it the weight of history on his shoulders or was he just tired after climbing the Nadal mountain in the previous round? It’s impossible to say, but on the other side of the net, Djokovic, with his head down and looking disjointed, wasn’t really there.
But a trip to the locker room later, everything was better for the world No. 1. With his head back on straight, he found his rhythm and his edge, while Tsitsipas had a moment of hesitation.
Djokovic’s break point to break 3-1 in the third set, after coming back five times, turned the match on its head. The Serb, once again the relentless steamroller, quickly tied the match at two sets apiece.
In the decisive set, he made the difference in the third game, and Tsitsipas, even fighting until the end and even carried by the public, could not prevent his opponent from triumphing at the end of a new match in more than four hours, as against Nadal in the semi-finals.
It was the second time during the Paris fortnight that Djokovic overcame a two-sets-to-none deficit, after his round of 16 win over young Italian Lorenzo Musetti.
At 34, he becomes the third oldest player in the Open Era to win the French Open (after Gimeno and Nadal).
Roland Garros experienced its first final in five sets since 2004 and the one between Argentine Gaston Gaudio and Guillermo Coria.