First, Stefanos Tsitsipas outlasted big-hitting sensation Alexander Zverev in five sets to reach his first Grand Slam final. That five-set thriller turned out to be a precursor for one of the finest tennis matches ever.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are two of the greatest players in the history of the sport, and both lived up to their respective reputations. Nadal, who has won 13 French Open titles, took the first set. Djokovic would rally to win the second before the two all-time greats engaged in a fierce third that would end in Djokovic winning a tiebreak. The Serbian showed nerves of steel in the fourth set, closing Nadal out.
The stage is now set for Djokovic and Tsitsipas to do battle in Sunday's final. Can the Greek upstart pull off an upset, or will Djokovic win his 19th Grand Slam? Let's break it down.
2021 French Open Final: (1) Novak Djokovic vs. (5) Stefanos Tsitsipas
When: Sunday, June 13, at 9 a.m. ET
Where: Philippe-Chatrier Court in Paris, France
Making Predictions For Djokovic vs. Tsitsipas
This match is perhaps more difficult to analyze than one might believe.
Some would point to Djokovic's victory over Nadal and label him the clear favorite, perhaps rightfully so. Djokovic entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed and had already captured the Australian Open title earlier this year. He is playing some of the best tennis of his career and just handed Nadal his third loss ever (!) at Roland Garros.
Still, there are at least a couple of reasons to believe Tsitsipas can get the job done. Although the 22-year-old is coming off a five-set match, Djokovic has played at least four sets in each of his last three matches.
Additionally, Tsitsipas will match Djokovic's fire on the court and chases down just about everything. He can rally with the best players in the world and has put his opponents under immense pressure whenever they are on serve.
The difference is Tsitsipas cannot sit around and wait for Djokovic to make mistakes, as Zverev did in their semifinal. Nole is far too polished, always finding the proper angles and hitting each groundstroke with seemingly perfect weight. Djokovic began to control the tempo of every point against Nadal with pristine groundstrokes, especially in the final set. He dominated Nadal, and nobody does that to Rafa on clay.
Another facet of this final is how resilient Djokovic has been. He lost the first two sets against 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti in the round of 16, only to win the next two sets 6-1, 6-0, before there was a walkover in the fifth set. Djokovic could have folded after Nadal controlled the first set, but instead dug deep and won each of the next three.
The guess here is Djokovic gets the job done and wins his 19th Grand Slam. Tsitsipas might get a set, but he won't be able to close Djokovic out.
Prediction: Djokovic wins in four sets