WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up French Open tips for the 2021 final, with all-time great Novak Djokovic starting as a warm favourite against brilliant tyro Stefanos Tsitsipas.
23:00 (AEST), Sun 14th Jun @ Roland Garros, Paris
History: Played 7: Djokovic 5 V Tsitsipas 2
Last meeting: Rome Masters, 2021 (QF): Djokovic d Tsitsipas 4-6 7-5 7-5
Final Thoughts: Novak Djokovic lines up for his 29th Grand Slam final against Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is approaching his first.
World No.1 Djokovic has the opportunity to win his second French Open title (he was the 2016 champion) after doing the seemingly impossible in the semis. The 34-year-old snapped Rafael Nadal’s 33-match winning streak at Roland Garros with a stunning 3-6 6-3 7-6 6-2 triumph.
It hasn’t been the smoothest week for Djokovic, forced to come from two sets down to beat unheralded teenager Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round before beating Matteo Berrettini in four sets.
Fifth seed Tsitsipas’ watershed tournament has featured several outstanding performances. He disposed of 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta and second seed Daniil Medvedev in straight sets. Then after watching a two-set lead over Alexander Zverev slip away in the semi-finals, he prevailed 6-3 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3.
Saving three break points at the start of the fifth set proved crucial to the 22-year-old’s emotional victory over Zverev.
Djokovic holds strong rivalry edge
Djokovic boasts a 5-2 advantage in the pair’s head-to-head. He has won the last four encounters, including a five-set classic in last year’s French Open semis and a 4-6 7-5 7-5 result in the recent Rome Masters quarters.
Tsitsipas fought back from two sets down at Roland Garros last year to force Djokovic into a decider.
Djokovic is 18-10 in Grand Slam finals, but only 1-4 in French Open finals. He has won 10 of his last 12 Grand Slam finals, however. Meanwhile, all of his losses in major finals came against players who had previously won Slams: Federer, Nadal, Murray and Wawrinka.
Tsitsipas’ fighting qualities came to the fore in the semis. Djokovic has to lift again after the high of an unbelievable upset of Nadal. But a first-time finalist hasn’t won a Grand Slam since Marin Cilic defeated fellow first-time finalist Kei Nishikori at the 2014 US Open. That big-stage experience will prove the decisive factor.