What both players have said
“All I can think of is my roots, and where I came from. I came from a small place outside Athens. My dream was to play here, to play on the big stage of the French Open one day. I never thought I would do it.”
“It is not the first time that I play an epic semi-final in a Grand Slam and then I have to come back in less than 48 hours and play finals. My recover abilities are pretty good, I must say, throughout my career. I know what I need to do.”
Djokovic’s path to final
After coming through the first three rounds in straight sets, the world No 1 was given a proper scare by Italian qualifer Lorenzo Musetti who took the opening two sets on a tiebreak before Djokovic rallied back and the 19-year-old retired in the fifth set trailing 4-0 down.
Ninth seed Matteo Berrettini also won a tie-break against Djokovic before losing in the fourth after another bruising three and a half hours on court for the second match running.
Djokovic route to final
Semi-final: 3-Rafael Nadal (ESP) 3-6 6-3 7-6(4) 6-2
Quarter-final: 9-Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 6-3 6-2 6-7(5) 7-5
Fourth-round: Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-7(7) 6-7(2) 6-1 6-0 4-0 (Retired)
Third-round Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-1 6-4 6-1
Second-round: Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3 6-2 6-4
First-round: Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-2 6-4 6-2
Total time on court: 16 hours and 38 minutes
Tsitsipas’ route to the final
While the tennis world was eulogising over Djokovic’s four and a bit epic with Nadal, it was easy to forget that Tsitsipas outlasted Alex Zverev in his own semi-final earlier in the day.
The Greek won the fifth set 6-3 after a rollercoaster contest that saw Zverev recover from losing the opening two sets.
The 22-year-old has only lost three sets overall this fortnight, the other coming in his third-round win over John Isner.
Semi-final: 6-Alexander Zverev (GER) 6-3 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3
Quarter-final: 2-Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 6-3 7-6(3) 7-5
Fourth round: 12-Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-3 6-2 7-5
Third-round: 31-John Isner (USA) 5-7 6-3 7-6(3) 6-1
Second-round: Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-3 6-4 6-3
First-round: Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-6(6) 6-3 6-1
Total time on court: 15 hours and 12 minutes
Another day, another trophy
Barbora Krejcikova can allow herself a night of celebrating after backing up yesterday’s maiden grand slam singles success by clinching the doubles title today.
In the process, the Czech becomes the first woman in 21 years (since Mary Pierce) to complete the double at the same French Open.
Krejcikova joined fellow Czech Katerina Siniakova to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-2.
Take a bow, Barbora.
Less than 48 hours from playing one of the “top three matches that I ever played in my entire career”, and it would be a fair question to mull over just how Novak Djokovic can replenish his energy levels and restore his concentration efforts for today’s showdown with first-time finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas.
On the one hand, the Greek fifth seed might have been watching Djokovic’s extraordinary battle royale with King of the Clay Rafa Nadal late on Friday evening with a wry smile as the sweat dripped off both players as they took their incredible rivalry to another out-of-this-world level. Or was he simply watching like the majority of us, simply in awe of the video-game like tennis on display scratching his head and pondering ‘how on earth can I compete with that?’
We all know by now, however, that Djokovic is super-human and has the physical and mental strength to get himself back up to the level that is required for today’s proceedings. After all, not only has he guaranteed that Nadal will not be able to stretch his grand slam titles tally and surpass Roger Federer in the process to 21, but the Serbian world No 1 has the huge opportunity to narrow the gap on the two other titans in men’s tennis to one major by securing his 19th major and second French Open title.
Victory would see Djokovic become only the third man after Rod Laver and Roy Emerson to win all the four grand slam titles twice, his seventh title in a span of 11 slams and also keep alive the chance to land all four majors in the same calendar year.
With the majority of the focus on Djokovic’s shoulders, Tsitsipas heads into his first major final as the underdog and seemingly with nothing to lose. That could make him a dangerous opponent, but that Djokovic, as his experience has shown over the years, will not underestimate.
How do you see this final panning out? Offer your predictions in the comments below.