Stefanos Tsitsipas is playing his first Grand Slam final against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Sunday at Roland Garros, but the Greek has shown no nerves in taking a 7-6(6) lead.
The 22-year-old was in danger of losing the opener when Djokovic served for the set at 6-5, and he faced a set point at 5/6 in the tie-break. But the fifth seed has played daring, attacking tennis to seize the lead against the 2016 champion after 69 minutes.
Tsitsipas, who is trying to become the first Greek in history to lift a Grand Slam trophy, crushed 18 winners in the opener and took advantage of a momentary lapse in Djokovic’s concentration at the end of the set. Djokovic crushed a forehand return down the middle on his set point, but Tsitsipas stayed calm and hit a forehand winner into the open court, eliciting a racquet clap from the top seed.
Infosys Stats – Djokovic v Tsitsipas (Through 1st Set)
|Stat||Novak Djokovic||Stefanos Tsitsipas|
|1st-Serve Pts Won||85% (22/26)||62% (18/29)|
|2nd-Serve Pts Won||25% (3/12)||67% (12/18)|
|Return Pts Won||36% (17/47)||34% (13/38)|
|Net Pts Won||67% (6/9)||100% (6/6)|
|Break Pts Converted||33% (1/3)||33% (1/3)|
The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion has been locked in since hitting a double fault long on the first point of the match. He earned his first set point at 5-4, but Djokovic found a way to squeak through a 25-shot rally. Despite dropping serve against Djokovic’s mounting pressure, Tsitsipas did not relent. He took advantage of the Serbian’s dipping first-serve percentage at the end of the set to step into the court and push the World No. 1 around the court.
Do not pass Tsitsipas. Do not collect $200.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) June 13, 2021
Djokovic has been far sharper than he was when he fell behind Rafael Nadal 0-5 in the semi-finals. But his missed opportunity to serve out the opener could prove critical.
These two clashed in a memorable semi-final on the Parisian clay last year. Djokovic sprinted to a two-set lead, before Tsitsipas mounted a spirited comeback in pursuit of his first major final. The World No. 1 locked down in the decider to advance to the championship match after three hours and 54 minutes.
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Overall, Djokovic leads their ATP Head2Head series 5-2 and he has won their three clay-court clashes, including a three-set victory at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia last month. Tsitsipas’ last victory against the top seed came in Shanghai in 2019.
Djokovic is fresh off one of the matches of the season, in which he battled past 13-time champion Rafael Nadal in four sets to become the first player to beat the Spaniard at Roland Garros twice. The last time he defeated Nadal here, in 2015, he lost in the final against Stan Wawrinka. Tsitsipas let slip a two-set lead against Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals, but was able to regroup and blast his way into the championship match.
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A victory will make Tsitsipas the youngest major singles champion since 20-year-old Juan Martin del Potro triumphed at the 2009 US Open. He is already the youngest Slam finalist since 22-year-old Andy Murray at the 2010 Australian Open.
History is on the line for the 34-year-old Djokovic, who is trying to keep his hopes of a Calendar-Year Grand Slam alive. No other player in the Open Era has completed the Australian Open-Roland Garros double twice, but Djokovic has a chance to achieve that feat, as he also won the year’s first two majors in 2016.
The top seed can claim his 19th Grand Slam title and moving to within one of his great rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, on the all-time list. Djokovic can become the first player to win the Career Grand Slam twice in the Open Era.