2021 French Open men's final: Novak Djokovic outlasts Stefanos Tsitsipas for 19th Grand Slam title

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Novak Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in an epic five-set match, 6-7 (6-8), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to win the men's singles title at the 2021 French Open and his 19th Grand Slam title. In a battle between the new and older generations in men's tennis, the 34-year-old Djokovic and member of the sport's 'Big Three' pushed off a real threat from the 22-year-old Tsitsipas and one of the widely touted 'Next Gen' players.

Djokovic continues to cement his case as one of the greatest tennis players of all-time, and with this title, he is now only the third men's tennis player to win each of the four major tournaments at least twice, joining Rod Laver and Roy Emerson. It's also an accomplishment that has never been achieved by either of his Big Three rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic defeated Andy Murray for his first French Open trophy back in 2016.

Furthermore and perhaps more important, Djokovic's 2021 French Open title puts him within one of the all-time men's record of Grand Slam titles. Currently, Federer and Nadal share a two-way tie, each owning 20. This means Djokovic has an opportunity to overtake Federer and Nadal this season, with Wimbledon (June 28-July 11) and the US Open (Aug. 30-Sept. 12) still left on the 2021 calendar.

In recent Slams, it's clear there is a new generation of men's players knocking at the door -- Tsitsipas here at this year's French Open, Dominic Thiem at 2020 US Open and Daniil Medvedev at 2021 Australian Open -- but Djokovic's victory proves the old guard isn't ready to be dismissed just yet. Contrary to the women's game, which has seen several first-time Slam winners in recent years, including Barbora Krejcikova's title at this year's French Open, the men's game is still waiting to see a new name step up to the challenge.

Tsitsipas was playing in his first major final while it was the 29th for Djokovic. Both finalists were playing some of their best clay-court tennis this season, and the championship match ultimately was a highly competitive one. Sunday was a rematch of last year's French Open semifinal, which was also won by Djokovic in five sets.

Djokovic rallied from an 0-2 set deficit after losing the first-set tiebreaker. Before losing the tiebreaker, Djokovic had previously won seven consecutive Grand Slam tiebreaks dating back to his 2015 Wimbledon final vs. Federer. The rally from two sets down was also the sixth time in his career he has successfully achieved the comeback, but this was the first time in his career he overcame it in a major final.

In the first set, Tsitsipas hit 18 winners and 10 unforced errors and was 6 for 6 at the net. Tsitsipas broke Djokovic in the first game of the second set, and kept that pace, rolling to a 6-2 victory. Djokovic, likely battling fatigue from his four-hour semifinal match, was lagging behind the fresher and younger competitor. But, it didn't last long; Djokovic broke Tsitsipas' serve en route to a 4-1 lead and eventual 6-3 win. He won 73 percent of his second-serve points and hit 11 winners to keep himself alive and avoid a straight-sets sweep. Tsitsipas had 11 unforced errors in the third set.

In the fourth set, Djokovic dropped only three points on serve and made quick work of Tsitsipas 6-2. The fifth set saw Tsitsipas dig deep to save a break point in his first service game, but Djokovic broke two games later on his way to a 3-1 lead. Eventually, Djokovic wrapped up the historic comeback in four hours and 11 minutes, taking the deciding set, 6-4.

En route to the title, Djokovic stopped Rafael Nadal's bid for a 14th French Open title when he won an epic semifinal on Friday. It was Nadal's third loss in 108 career matches at the clay-court tournament he has dominated his entire career. Djokovic lost to Nadal in straight sets in the 2020 French Open final.

Tsitsipas defeated sixth-seeded Alexander Zverev in five sets in his Friday semifinal match, to become the first Greek player in history to reach a Grand slam final. Despite his setback Sunday, Tsitsipas is still the youngest player to have defeated all three players from the Big Three. 

Tsitsipas completed the achievement -- knocking off each of the Big Three -- before he was 21 years old; he defeated Nadal in the 2021 Australian Open quarterfinals in five sets, defeated Federer at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals in London and defeated Djokovic at the 2019 ATP Masters 1000 in Shanghai.

Road to the Final:

Djokovic
R1: def. Tennys Sandgren, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2
R2: def. Pablo Cuevas, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
R3: def. Ricardas Berankis, 6-1, 6-4, 6-1
R4: def. Lorenzo Musetti, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-2), 6-1, 6-0, 4-0 (Walkover)
QF: def. No. 9 Matteo Berrettini, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5
SF: def. No. 3 Rafael Nadal, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2

Tsitsipas
R1: def. Jeremy Chardy, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 6-1
R2: def. Pedro Martinez, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3
R3: def. No. 31 John Isner, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1
R4: def. No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5
QF: def. No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5
SF: def. No. 6 Alexander Zverev, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 

CBS Sports had you covered with all of the live highlights, updates and more from this match in the feed below.

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We have not seen the last of the 22-year-old Tsitsipas, though. I doubt we've seen the end of 34-year-old Djokovic, either. He's now within one of the all-time record. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are currently tied for the lead with 20 titles.

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Novak Djokovic defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets. He wins his 19th Grand Slam title.

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Djokovic serving to win his 19th Grand Slam title.

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It was hard to think that this year's French Open final could top the Nadal-Djokovic semi final, but this is truly a delight to the surprise of tennis fans. It looks to be competitive until the very end. I wouldn't be shocked if we end up in a fifth set tiebreaker.

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Tsitsipas holds and it's 5-4, Djokovic in the decider.

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Another strong hold from Djokovic. He's up 5-3.

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4-3, Djokovic on serve. This five-setter is at the four-hour mark. As I mentioned before, both players are coming off grueling semi final matches.

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Tsitsipas is down, but not out. Shaky, shaky hold there. But, he holds. It's 4-3, Djokovic. Just when you think Djokovic might be too much for the youngster, Tsitsipas manages to give it all he's got. Honestly, the endurance level in this match is astonishing for both players.

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@rolandgarros via Twitter
June 13, 2021, 4:54 PM
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Big break for Djokovic. He takes a 2-1 lead in this fifth and final set.

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Fifth set is already off to a hot start. Tsitsipas, 1-0. At the moment, the Roland Garros crowd is on his side.

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Djokovic has come back to force a fifth set. He takes the fourth set, 6-2.

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@rolandgarros via Twitter
June 13, 2021, 4:28 PM
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@rolandgarros via Twitter
June 13, 2021, 4:25 PM
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@rolandgarros via Twitter
June 13, 2021, 4:12 PM
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We're over the three-hour mark, and it's 3-0 Djokovic in the fourth set.

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