How Can Stefanos Tsitsipas Overcome the Novak Djokovic Hurdle in French Open 2021 Final?

Published 06/12/2021, 8:25 AM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 11, 2021 Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas reacts during his semi final match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes


After playing arguably the match of his life to take down 13-time champion Rafael Nadal, World No.1 Novak Djokovic is on the cusp of another Grand Slam. A trophy, if he wins it, on Sunday will be the 19th of his career and will take him just one short of the Spaniard and Roger Federer. But standing between the Serb and a second Roland-Garros title is World No.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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For the many, the Greek is far too good a player to have not lifted a Grand Slam title as yet. However, that moment doesn’t seem far now as a phenomenal campaign at Roland-Garros has put him just a win away from winning his first Major.

Novak Djokovic will take a 5-2 head-to-head lead over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open final

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While he is just a win away, Tsitsipas himself knows all too well, getting past Djokovic in a Grand Slam final will take a monumental effort.

The two have been involved in seven career head-to-head meetings to date, with the Serb leading 5-2. Their most recent meeting was in the quarter-finals in Rome, an absorbing match that was played over two days due to a rain-induced suspension overnight.

Before the heavens had opened up, forcing the chair umpire to halt proceedings for the day, Tsitsipas had won the opening set at a canter and was up a break in the second.

However, the tide turned the day after as the Serbian, as he has done so often in his career, engineered a brilliant comeback win to progress to the last four.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 11, 2021, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts during his semi final match against Spain’s Rafael Nadal REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

While the Greek imploded then, he went on to win his second Tour title on clay this year in Lyon and now has reached his maiden Grand Slam at Roland-Garros on the back of an impressive run.

Tsitsipas should look to take the attack to Djokovic

Tsitsipas’ best chance to upstage Djokovic in the June 13 final would be to not take his foot off the pedal as he did in his Rome defeat.

Even in his heart-racing semi-final win over Alexander Zverev on Friday, Tsitsipas was sitting comfortably at two sets to love before two indifferent service games in two sets helped the German roar back into the contest.

The Greek should look to set the pace early against Djokovic and dictate the run of play, forcing the Serbian to blink.

Should he get an opening against the World No.1, he should jump all over it and hold on to it till the final point of the match.

While the same is easier said than done against one of the all-time greats, sitting back and allowing the game to drift could prove even dicier against the reigning Australian Open champion.

The best way for Tsitsipas would be to impose himself on his opponent through aggressive shot-making and putting early pressure on his serve.

Also, with the Serb coming off a tense, emotionally draining tie against the defending champion, the Greek should look to play on the fatigue factor and make him run down balls and test his endurance.

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While Tsitsipas will no doubt come out with a game plan, strategy alone won’t win the day against Djokovic

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It has to be a combination of tactics and a fearless approach from Stefanos Tsitsipas if he is to make the Serb wilt in Sunday’s finale at Roland-Garros.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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