In mid-May, in Rome, Novak Djokovic taunted the young guard of the circuit when receiving his finalist trophy, beaten by Rafael Nadal: “Rafa, me and maybe Roger [Federer], we are the new generation. Of course, young people grow, whatever. We are still the ones who win the biggest tournaments and those of the Grand Slam ”, he had trumpeted.
Not without reason. Sunday, June 13, in the Roland-Garros final, the 5,000 spectators had the demonstration. At 34, the Serb lectured a 22-year-old kid, toppling Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas after 4:11 (6-7 , 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4) to lift his 19e title in Grand Slam, the second on Parisian clay.
On the Philippe-Chatrier court again full of Panama hats after an autumnal 2020 edition, the public knew that the outcome of this quarrel between the Old and the Modern would inevitably go down in history. On paper, the imbalance was immense. On the one hand, the Serbian metronome who had already disputed 28; on the other, the young ephebe, a novice at this level. One attacked an Everest when the other intended to reign definitively on the roof of the world, launched in a pursuit of records behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
After having dismissed his Mallorcan rival in the semi-finals after 4:11 – already – of a battle that will go down in history, the world number one has given the lie to the adage saying that “when you beat Nadal to Roland, you leave escape the crown ”(Djokovic lost in 2015 against Swiss Stan Wawrinka, Swedish Robin Söderling in 2009 against Federer).
However, Novak Djokovic was on fire after a fanfare start to the match from the Greek, who won the first set in the tie-break and flew over the second. Ignoring the pressure of a first Grand Slam final, he rolled out his attacking game and showed off his progress in return and at the net. A second act where the favorite was nothing more than a shadow than himself, suddenly amorphous.
But as often, we believe the Serbian on the verge of K.-O. ? He suddenly comes back to life. In the round of 16, led two sets to zero by the young Italian Lorenzo Musetti, after a detour through the locker room, he returned to the court with the colors of his outfit reversed but his head put back to the place. The scenario repeated itself on Sunday: “He came off the court with two sets to zero. I don’t know what happened but when he came back he was a different player: his anticipation, his gestures, he was much fresher than before, Tsitsipas summed up. I felt like he could read my game better all of a sudden. It took him well. “
You have 55.99% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.