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French Open 2021: Novak Djokovic vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas Set for Men's Final

Blake SchusterContributor IJune 12, 2021

Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

If the men's singles final at the French Open is more entertaining than the semifinal between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal on Friday, tennis fans will have witnessed one of the best championship rounds in recent memory. 

No. 1 Djokovic will look to prove up to the task against No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday with the title up for grabs.

How each player reached this stage is as significant as the matchup that awaits them. 

Djokovic handed Nadal just his third loss ever at Roland Garros in Friday's semifinal—3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2—dropping Nadal's record to 105-3 at the French Open and denying the Spaniard a 21st major title. Djokovic is now the only player to beat Nadal twice at the tournament.  

Things seemed to be trending in Nadal's favor early on before an epic tiebreaker in the third set shifted all the momentum towards Djokovic, who was able to hold off Nadal in the fourth set and secure a win.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Djokovic is locked in 😤<br><br>What a point to win the tiebreaker #RolandGarros<br><br>(via @TennisChannel)pic.twitter.com/PDiDpWAKja

Tennis Channel @TennisChannel

He's completed the toughest feat in our sport not once, but twice. 💪@DjokerNole defeats Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 to set up a final meeting with Tsitsipas. <br>How it happened: https://t.co/ykPM9ywSdd#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/Sj2SYt3UsO

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Before facing Nadal, Djokovic fought past No. 9 Matteo Berrettini in four sets, while Tsitsipas picked up some revenge against Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals over three sets then knocked off No. 6 Alexander Zverev in five sets.

Tsitsipas dropped a semifinal matchup at the Australian Open to eventual runner-up Medvedev earlier this season as he seeks his first major championship. 

Tennis Channel @TennisChannel

Soak it up, Stef. 👏@steftsitsipas defeats Zverev in five sets to become the first Greek player to reach a major final: 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3. 🇬🇷#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/Crz0qvkH9V

The 22-year-old from Greece advanced to the singles final at the French Open for the first time in his career as he continues to improve his performance on clay year after year. After falling in the first round in his 2017 French Open debut, Tsitsipas has advanced further and further each subsequent year, making it to the second round in 2018, fourth round in 2019 and semifinal in 2020. 

Tennis Channel @TennisChannel

“All I can think of is my roots, where I came from…My dream was to play in a big stage at the French Open one day."<br><br>And here @steftsitsipas stands now, at age 22, the first player from his country to reach this level. 🙌#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/l0iFpXaxei

Now he'll face off against tennis royalty in Djokovic as the Serbian seeks his second French Open title in his fifth final appearance. It's the second time Djokovic has reached the championship round in back-to-back years after a run of three straight appearances from 2014-2016. 

Tennis Channel @TennisChannel

It was a privilege for them to play each other again on this stage, and even more of a privilege for us to watch. <br><br>Congratulations, @DjokerNole. 👏#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/1VM7qu9mIB

After winning the Australian Open in February, the 34-year-old can now claim the first two majors of the season. Doing so would put Djokovic halfway to a season Grand Slam for the second time in his career. He's never won more than three major tournaments in one season, with the last occurring in 2015 (Australian Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open). 

No men's player has held all four major titles simultaneously since Rod Laver accomplished the feat in 1969. 

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