Novak Djokovic is chasing more records following his history-making triumph after the world number one's French Open crown brought him closer to rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the race for tennis supremacy.

Djokovic became the first man in the Open Era to claim two or more titles at each of the four grand slams thanks to Sunday's stunning 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Serbian star Djokovic was two sets down on Court Philippe Chatrier, where he also became the first player in the Open Era to win a slam from two sets behind for his 19th major crown.

"I am thrilled and I'm very proud of this achievement," Djokovic – who upstaged clay specialist and defending champion Nadal in the semi-finals – told reporters afterwards. "I think part of the history of the sport that I love with all my heart is always something that is very inspiring and very fulfilling for me.

"I couldn't be happier and more satisfied with this kind of scenario in the last 48 hours. Probably ranks at the top three all-time achievements and experiences that I had in my professional tennis career. Going through a four-and-a-half battle with Rafa on his court, then bouncing back after not practicing yesterday, just coming in today with as much as recharged batteries and energy regained to fight another battle of four-and-a-half hours against Tsitsipas, who is playing in his first grand slam finals.

"It's always, of course, a bit tricky because you're playing for your trophy, for your first grand slam trophy, but you don't have much to lose. So I knew that he's going to probably start off very well, which was the case. It was a very close first set. Kind of gone a different way, but he was just the better player in those clutch moments. Second set I dropped physically and mentally I think a little bit. I just got fatigued a bit, just allowed him to kind of dominate the second set pretty much.

"Then went out from the court, as was the case against [Lorenzo] Musetti in the fourth round when I was two sets down, and came back as a different player. Just refreshed, managed to make a break, early break in the third. After that, I felt like I got into his head. I feel like I started swinging through the ball better. The momentum was on my side, it shifted. There was no looking back from that moment."

Djokovic is now just one trophy shy of equalling the record for most grand slam singles titles on the men's tour, currently shared by Nadal and Federer.

The 34-year-old insisted he will continue to chase records, with the ageing Nadal and Federer firmly in his sight.

"I never thought it was a mission impossible to reach the grand slams of these guys," Djokovic said. "I'm not there, but it's one less. But they are still playing. Obviously, they're playing great, especially Rafa with his level. We all have still opportunities at Wimbledon, all the other slams.

"You have four slams a year, so we're all competing for this amazing achievement and amazing trophies. I'll keep on going. I'll keep on chasing. At the same time, I'll keep on paving my own path, which is my own authentic path. We all three of us have our own journeys, and that's it."

Among those records is the golden grand slam – winning all four calendar majors as well as gold at the Olympic Games – with Wimbledon, the rescheduled Tokyo Games and US Open still to come in 2021 following his Australian Open success.

"Everything is possible. Definitely in my case I can say that what I've been through in my career, in my life, this journey has been terrific so far," added Djokovic. "I've achieved some things that a lot of people thought it would be not possible for me to achieve. Everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the golden slam.

"But, I was in this position in 2016 as well. It ended up in a third-round loss in Wimbledon. This year we have only two weeks between the first round of Wimbledon and the finals here, which is not ideal because you go from really two completely different surfaces, trying to make that transition as smooth as possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible. So obviously I will enjoy this win and then think about Wimbledon in a few days' time.

"I don't have an issue to say that I'm going for the title in Wimbledon. Of course, I am. I was really happy to know that we are going to play Wimbledon this year, considering we haven't played it last year. I've had great success in the last couple of Wimbledon seasons that were played. I won in '18 and '19 there. Hopefully, I can keep that run going. I like the grass. Over the years I think I improved on grass, I adjusted my game. Hopefully, I can use this confidence that I have right now into Wimbledon, as well. Then let's take it from there."

Stefanos Tsitsipas "could easily have cried" after seeing his French Open dream crushed by Novak Djokovic but insists there is "no reason" he cannot be a future champion.

In his first grand slam final, the 22-year-old looked to be cantering to victory when he moved two sets up against the world number one.

However, much as he did in his fourth-round win over Lorenzo Musetti, Djokovic left the court before the start of the third set and returned a different competitor, going on to win 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 after more than four hours on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Tsitsipas had little answer to the resurgent Djokovic, who became the first male player in the Open era to win every grand slam at least twice as he moved onto 19 in his career, one behind record-holders Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Tsitsipas struggled to answer why his game began to let him down in the final three sets as he cut a disconsolate figure when speaking to the media afterwards.

"I felt like my rhythm was off [after the second set]," he said. "I really don't know why. It was very strange considering that I started finding my rhythm, finding my shots, my movement on the court was perfect, and suddenly just felt cold and out of it.

"It was difficult to readjust. I felt like I kind of lost my game a little bit. I really wish I could understand why things like this happened and evolved. But I was trying to figure it out during my game. It was difficult to come up with something.

"It's very unfortunate, very sad in the same way because it was a good opportunity. I was playing good. I was feeling good. Yeah, I lost an opportunity to do something better today.

"What I learned today is that no matter what, in order for the match to be finished, you have to win three sets and not two. Two sets doesn't really mean anything. It's still one away [from] winning the entire match."

Tsitsipas admitted Djokovic seemed rejuvenated as the third set got underway, saying: "He left the court after two sets to love down, I don't know what happened there, but he came back to me like a different player suddenly.

"I don't know. I have no idea. He played really well. He gave me no space. [I] felt physically, anticipation maybe, just movement on the court, everything felt much more fresh and much better than before. I kind of felt like he could read my game a bit better suddenly. Good for him. He did well to get there."

Tsitsipas, who will move to number four in the world after reaching the final, is one of the prime contenders to lead the way when the so-called 'big three' finally call time on their careers.

The Greek beat Roger Federer at the 2019 Australian Open and Rafael Nadal in Melbourne this year, while he has twice beaten Djokovic at Masters 1000 events.

"I believe, yes, I'm able to play for titles like this," he added. "Despite my loss today, I have faith in my game. I very much believe I can get to that point very soon.

"I was close today. Every opponent is difficult. There's a small difference between the player I played today and the ones from before.

"But I think with the same attitude and the same... if I don't downgrade myself, I see no reason for me not to be holding that trophy one day.

"I played two good sets. I wouldn't call them incredible. I just played really well. It wasn't enough. It wasn't enough. That's a grand slam for you. It's the way it is.

"I don't think I have regrets. Could have easily cried, but I see no reason for me crying because I tried everything. I couldn't come up with anything better."

Novak Djokovic backed Stefanos Tsitsipas to bounce back from the French Open final defeat that left the Greek star shell-shocked.

As Djokovic inked more achievements into the tennis record books, he did so at the expense of a player who surely thought his grand slam moment had come when he led the world number one by two sets.

Just as the crowd inside Court Philippe Chatrier prepared for a new champion to be crowned, Djokovic dug in, scrambling, scurrying and showing incredible levels of energy to snatch a 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory from what was almost a lost cause.

Having come through an exhausting four-hour battle with Rafael Nadal, the greatest of all Roland Garros champions, on Friday, it was mesmerising to watch Djokovic pick apart another world-class opponent in a marathon contest.

This was a match featuring the third largest age gap between French Open men's singles finalists in the Open Era, with Djokovic, at 34, showing a freshness that 22-year-old Tsitsipas could only admire in the closing stages. It marked the first time in Djokovic's great career that he has won a slam final from a two-set deficit.

Tsitsipas will not forget his first slam final in a hurry, but he would surely want to.

"I would like to say a few words to Stefanos," Djokovic said in an on-court interview. "I can relate to what he's going through. I understand how difficult that is, losing in the final of a grand slam.

"These are the kind of matches, the kind of occasions, you learn from the most, I think.

"Knowing him and his team, he's going to come out much stronger from this match and I definitely believe he's going to win many grand slams in the future. So respect to you and your team."

Djokovic became the first man in the Open Era to rack up two or more titles at each of the four grand slams, and he has 19 such victories altogether now, just one behind the all-time record that is shared by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

"It's truly a dream to be here and play a great match for one of the great trophies in our sport," Djokovic said.

"This is a tournament that gives me a lot of inspiration. I've needed the inspiration. I'm not as young as Stefanos. I have to search every day for new inspiration.

"It's sure that my great motivations are my children and my wife and all my team, who give me so much support and love. Without them it wouldn't be possible for me to be here. I'm proud and happy."

The body language of Tsitsipas showed he was obviously crestfallen and suffering, a post-match speech just a reminder of the pain he had been subjected to at the hands of the world number one.

"It was a big fight out there. I tried my best, I tried as much as I could but Novak played better," Tsitsipas said.

"It was my first time being here in the finals. I had a good run and I'm happy with myself, but let's give it to Novak. He's showed us in the last couple of years what a great champion he is, how consistent he has been.

"I would say I'm inspired by the things he has achieved so far and I hope one day I can maybe do half of what he has done so well."

From chump to champ, bonehead to figurehead. What a difference a year makes.

On this weekend in 2020, Novak Djokovic was partying like it was, well, 2019, after the first leg of the Adria Tour, limbo-dancing in a Belgrade cabaret club, mask-free, carefree, some might say cluelessly.

Within days, he had tested positive for COVID-19, as had Djokovic's wife Jelena, along with Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Goran Ivanisevic. The tournament that Djokovic had organised was in disarray and plans to take it to five Balkan cities were abandoned when the second event in Zadar was called off before its final.

Nick Kyrgios, incredulous at home in Australia, called it a "boneheaded" decision to play the events, and Djokovic made a grovelling apology, saying he was "so deeply sorry" for the harm that had been caused.

The main tennis tours had ground to a necessary halt, but Djokovic could not resist moving, cavorting.

He might feel like hitting up a Parisian nightclub after Sunday's breathtaking comeback against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open final, the first time he has come from two sets down to win a grand slam final, but even if they were open, Djokovic has probably learnt his lesson. He taught Tsitsipas a thing or two in this Roland Garros epic, too, primarily this: however much a grand slam title match feels in your control, these major finals are not like any you have played before.

So now Djokovic has 19 major titles, one behind all-time leaders Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal heading into Wimbledon in two weeks' time. He is the first man in the Open Era to win two or more titles at each of the four grand slams.

When Tsitsipas followed a thrilling opening set here by breezing through the second against the world number one, establishing a two-set cushion, his maiden slam final was going as well as he could possibly have hoped. His serve was potent, his biggest shots were landing in, and he had the measure of Djokovic's delivery: the Serbian won just 35 per cent of points on his second serve over those opening two sets.

Nine winners to just two unforced errors from Tsitsipas in that second set showed who was in charge. Djokovic had taken an early fall in the match: was that a factor?

Yet in the fourth game of the third set, Djokovic landed a punch so loaded that it caused Tsitsipas to wobble for the next hour, saving three game points on the Greek's serve before snatching the break at his own fourth opportunity.

The 11-minute game evoked memories of how Djokovic took down Nadal in their magnificent semi-final, Tsitsipas flinging a despairing backhand just wide to slide 3-1 behind, his resistance broken, his momentum gone.

Djokovic has suffered in the past following marathon grand slam semi-finals, including in Paris last October when he battled past Tsitsipas in five and then won just seven games against Nadal.

Friday's four hours and 11 minutes of hard battle against Nadal was as draining as such matches come, so from where had Djokovic found this renewed energy? Tsitsipas, seeing the title slip away, needed a big sip from whatever well from which the Serbian was drinking.

An astonishing angled drop shot from Djokovic in the third game of the decider showed his scrambling, sprinting energy was only heightening in its intensity, and he backed up that effort with a break moments later.

Tsitsipas had largely rediscovered his game, but the prospect of a pair of first-time singles champions at Roland Garros, for the first time since the Gaston Gaudio-Anastasia Myskina double in 2004, was ebbing away. It was soon all over.

After the Adria Tour howler and his US Open disqualification clanger, Djokovic began his 2021 season on a positive note with a ninth Australian Open title. Now he has a second French Open, and we can seriously start to think about a calendar year sweep of the grand slams. He has won seven of his majors since turning 30, the most by anyone in the Open Era, and it feels safe to say there are more to come.

Twelve months ago, it was a case of 'how low can you go?' as Djokovic dipped under that limbo pole.

Suddenly we can start to ask: are there no limits to the heights this remarkable man might scale?

Novak Djokovic made history in sensational fashion by storming back from two sets down to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in a pulsating French Open final.

Tsitsipas looked to be on course to become the first Greek major champion, but legendary top seed Djokovic produced a stirring fightback to win a thriller 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 at Roland Garros on Sunday.

The indefatigable world number one etched his name in the record books on Court Philippe-Chatrier, becoming the first man in the Open Era - and only the third of all time - to triumph at each grand slam at least twice.

Djokovic had never won a major from two sets behind in a championship match but is just one shy of the record tally of 20 grand slam titles held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who he beat in an epic semi-final on Friday.

Tsitsipas appeared to be increasingly hampered by a hip injury as he endured heartbreak in his first grand slam final.

The 2016 champion won three service games without losing a point in a strong start on a sunny afternoon in Paris and there was relief when he picked himself up following a fall at speed while running at full tilt trying to retrieve return a deft drop shot.

A sprightly Tsitsipas was feeding off the energy of the crowd and had a set point after Djokovic skewed a forehand wide, but the 34-year-old showed the mentality of an all-time great to get himself out of a hole and broke in the next game when a stray forehand from the fifth seed put him 6-5 down.

Djokovic was clearly struggling with the sun in his eyes as he failed to serve out the set and Tsitsipas charged into a 4-0 lead in a brilliant tie-break, which he eventually won after saving a set point with a majestic forehand winner down the line.

Tsitsipas maintained the momentum, breaking in the opening game of the second set when Djokovic sent a forehand beyond the baseline and continuing to show rapid pace over the court.

The 22-year-old was relentless, returning superbly and unleashing a serious of glorious winners as he went a double break up before serving out the set in ruthless fashion.

Yet Djokovic hit back like he has done so many times over the years in the third set, taking a 3-1 lead by grasping his fifth break-point opportunity of a marathon game in which he put his opponent under huge pressure with a string of searing, precise returns. 

The Serbian's forehand was firing on all cylinders as he sealed the set, then broke in the first game of the fourth and again to lead 3-0 with a sublime drop shot.

Tsitsipas' unforced error count was rising rapidly and he was not moving as freely, with the wind in Djokovic's sails as he levelled the match.

World number five Tsitsipas held after saving a break point in the first game of the decider but Djokovic was not to be denied a 2-1 lead, forcing an error as he continued to show astonishing staying power along with finesse and power.

Tsitsipas showed great fight but Djokovic served out a match of such high drama to get his hands on La Coupe des Mousquetaires once again.

Barbora Krejcikova became the first woman for 21 years to win both singles and doubles titles at the same French Open as the Czech completed her staggering fortnight in Paris.

"We will have a little glass of champagne," said Krejcikova, the breakout star of Roland Garros this year, after she and Katerina Siniakova fended off Iga Swiatek and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in Sunday's doubles final.

A 6-4 6-2 victory for the Czech duo gave them a third women's grand slam title as a pair, and a second in Paris after their 2018 triumph.

Krejcikova was already established as a world-class doubles player, but it has been as a singles player that she has emerged in recent times, having only entered the WTA top 100 rankings for the first time last October.

A three-set victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Saturday's singles final gave the world number 33 a first major title without a team-mate at her side.

The doubles triumph means the French Open women's title double has been achieved for the first time since Mary Pierce cleaned up in 2000, when the Frenchwoman beat Conchita Martinez in singles and paired up with Martina Hingis to beat Paola Suarez and Virginia Ruano Pascual.

The 25-year-old Krejcikova becomes just the seventh woman to clinch the double, after Billie Jean King, Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Virginia Ruzici, Martina Navratilova and Pierce.

Pierce wrote on Twitter: "Well done @BKrejcikova! Welcome to a very special club."

Krejcikova said she had not slept well after her singles triumph, and she felt not only tired but complained of "having some pains in my leg" after the doubles.

It has been a strenuous fortnight, and she was determined to finally unwind on Sunday evening.

"I think we going to have a dinner together this evening. We will have a little glass of champagne," she said.

"I already said I don't really drink but I think it's a time to actually celebrate it. I think we going to really enjoy ourselves.

"The rest, I just want to go back home. I just really have to relax. I have to spend some time with my family. After that, just start to work again."

Krejcikova will be a marked player at Wimbledon after her rapid rise in the rankings was capped by the slam success.

"I hope I'm going to have some chances on the grass, but I don't really know because I'm not that experienced on it," she said. "We will see.

"I just know from now on I can really enjoy because I have pretty much achieved everything I really wanted.

"Now I can just improve, that's the only thing I can do, just improving. All the guys and the ladies are doing. That's what I think."

A look to the sky, a wide smile, and a kiss. I did it, Jana. We did it.

Barbora Krejcikova is a grand slam singles champion, barely eight months after she first cracked the world's top 100, and the first instinct is to suggest this will be a one-off.

Ladies and gentlemen, a pandemic champion, an asterisk champion.

Jana Novotna, her former coach and mentor, who died in November 2017, won just one singles slam too, but she was a long-time force in the women's game. Indeed, Krejcikova left no doubt about her influence on Saturday's success.

But for those doubting Krejcikova's credentials, a little pause for thought.

Novotna won 14 of her 16 grand slam doubles titles before landing that elusive singles crown in 1998 at Wimbledon, and Krejcikova landed five doubles majors ahead of her own remarkable singles breakthrough.

Martina Navratilova, who handed Krejcikova the trophy, also won doubles titles at the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open before she ever landed a singles major.

This is, to some extent, a well-worn path by Czech players. So there is more nuance here. And stuff first instincts. Perhaps, like Novotna and Navratilova before her, this Czech player might he here to stay at the highest level.

The 25-year-old from Brno has joined the ranks of those few champions who have won grand slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles, and she will be up to 15th in the WTA rankings on Monday.

Krejcikova might be back at number one in the doubles rankings too, as she and partner Katerina Siniakova have a Roland Garros final on Sunday against Iga Swiatek – last year's singles champion – and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Win that, and Krejcikova will be on top of the world once more in the discipline where she has honed the tools that brought her glory at Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova's expense in what proved a thoroughly absorbing singles final.

The slices, the drop shots, the lobs and the net approaches, and the double-handed backhand that flits between being weapon and weakness: all those shots were honed in doubles, mostly alongside Siniakova.

Krejcikova spoke at the trophy presentation of her giddy amazement that Justine Henin, the four-time French Open winner, knew who she was when they bumped into each other behind the scenes in Paris.

Navratilova chipped in.

"In 2014, when you found out Jana moved back to Brno, you had the courage to go knock on her door and ask her for help. What gave you that courage?" asked the player who won 59 majors, including 18 singles slams.

Krejcikova's reply? "My mum."

Bravo Mrs Krejcikova.

Krejcikova has spoken often about Novotna but here she opened up to explain how she had spent so much time with the great champion before her death.

Novotna had kept news of her cancer out of the public consciousness, but Krejcikova not only knew, she felt she owed her driving force to stay by her side throughout the illness.

"I was going through a really hard time when Jana was passing away," Krejcikova told the crowd.

"I was most of the time with her and I really wanted to experience this, because I thought this was going to make me really strong.

"And pretty much her last words were just, 'Enjoy and just try to win a grand slam'.

"I know that from somewhere she's looking after me and all of this, this two weeks, is pretty much because she's looking after me from up there.

"I just want to thank her. It was amazing I had a chance to meet her and she was such an inspiration to me. I just really miss her. I hope she's happy right now. I'm extremely happy."

Three mixed doubles titles – one with Nikola Mektic and two with Rajeev Ram – plus two women's doubles with Siniakova, and now a singles triumph.

Except we know Krejcikova does not feel alone on the court. She senses Novotna's guiding hand. This is a doubles partnership dressed up as a singles player.

Novotna, weeks after winning Wimbledon, her destiny ever since she wept on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent after losing to Steffi Graf in the 1993 final, shed some light on what it meant for her.

"I felt enormous relief and I felt that now it seems like this would be a new beginning for me," Novotna said.

This is a new beginning for Krejcikova too. Never a factor in singles previously, she has properly arrived now. Like you always had to with Novotna, watch out for her at Wimbledon.

Barbora Krejcikova paid another emotional tribute to her late mentor Jana Novotna after winning her maiden grand slam singles title at the French Open on Saturday.

The unseeded Krejcikova beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 2-6 6-4 in the battle of two first-time major singles finalists on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Krejcikova said her former coach and compatriot Novotna, who died from cancer aged 49 in November 2017, was always in her thoughts as she embarked on a surprise, glorious run at Roland Garros.

The 25-year-old pointed to the sky as she delivered a poignant tribute to Novotna after becoming the first Czech woman to win the title in Paris since Hana Mandlikova in 1981. 

She said of the 1998 Wimbledon champion: "I was going through a really hard time when Jana passed away, I was with her most of the time. Her last words were pretty much 'just enjoy it and try to win a grand slam."

Krejcikova added: "I know from somewhere she is looking after me and all this what happened in the last two weeks is pretty much because she is looking after me from up there.

"It is amazing I had the chance to meet her and she was an inspiration. I hope she is really happy and I am extremely happy."

Ranked 114 when the WTA Tour returned last August following a coronavirus-enforced shutdown, the surprise package is the sixth consecutive maiden major champion to be crowned at the French Open.

Krejcikova, a winner of five grand slam doubles titles with another up for grabs on Sunday, was pinching herself after lifting the Suzanne Lenglen Cup.

"I want to thank all of them - my coach, my physio, my friends and everyone back home. My family, my mum and dad, my brothers, my niece and nephew. It's nice to see everyone," she said.

"It is hard to put into words because I cannot believe what just happened. I cannot believe I actually won a grand slam."

Barbora Krejcikova came out on top in an almighty French Open battle with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win her maiden grand slams singles title.

The unseeded Krejcikova dominated the opening set but had to fend off a Pavlyuchenkova fightback to win 6-1 2-6 6-4 at Roland Garros on Saturday.

Making only her fifth appearance in a main singles draw at a major compared to her Russian opponent's 52nd, Krejcikova added a first grand slam singles title to her five doubles triumphs.

Krejcikova broke twice in a tense final set in the battle between two first-time major singles finalists on Court Philippe-Chatrier, becoming the first Czech woman to win the title in Paris since Hana Mandlikova in 1981. 

Pavlyuchenkova won the opening point with a measured forehand winner, with Krejcikova looking understandably nervy as she was broken in the first game but she soon warmed to the task.

The 25-year-old took command on a humid afternoon, dictating rally after rally in composed fashion with precise groundstrokes off both wings and deft drop shots.

Krejcikova returned superbly and had a 5-1 lead when a Pavlyuchenkova forehand looped out before coming from 0-30 down to wrap up a one-sided opening set in only 31 minutes.

Pavlyuchenkova, four years older than her opponent, finally held after fending off a break point in the first game of the second set and went 2-0 up with a rasping backhand winner down the line following a sublime drop shot.

A thunderous, deep Pavlyuchenkova return enabled her to move a game away from levelling the match but she had to take a medical timeout when leading 5-2 following a Krejcikova break.

The 31st seed returned to the court with strapping on her left thigh and broke again to take the second set, but a double fault gifted Krejcikova an early break in the decider.

Pavlyuchenkova hit straight back, letting out a roar after a brilliant cross-court forehand to make it 2-2, only for Krejcikova to secure a break to love for a 4-3 lead with a forehand winner.

The battling Pavlyuchenkova did not appear to be moving as freely but saved two match points to stay alive before Krejcikova served out the match, raising her arms aloft after her opponent sent a forehand long.

Novak Djokovic described beating Rafael Nadal at the French Open as the tennis equivalent of scaling Mount Everest – and it will be how he copes with the descent that dictates his prospects in Sunday's final.

Researchers have pointed to that being the real danger on Everest expeditions, and there are perils involved in a tennis comedown too, although Djokovic was optimistic he would be ready for Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Roland Garros title match.

"I'm not the freshest guy right now obviously," Djokovic said after his four hours and 11 minutes epic semi-final against Nadal.

"The good thing is that I have a day and a half to rejuvenate and try to regroup, think about my next opponent."

The world number one intended to spend a large part of Saturday resting up before, as he put it, "hopefully being able to be fit to compete in the best-of-five with a guy who is in a great shape".

"It's not the first time that I've played an epic semi-final in a grand slam and then I've had to come back in less than 48 hours and play finals," Djokovic said.

"My recovery abilities are pretty good, I must say, throughout my career. Obviously my physiotherapist will try to do everything possible so I can be fresh.

"Because I played enough tennis, I don't need to train too much. It's really now just about taking things slowly until the day of the finals. I know what I need to do.

"Obviously Tsitsipas, first time in the finals of a grand slam, if I'm not mistaken. For him it's a great achievement, but I'm sure he doesn't want to stop there.

"He's in great form. I think he leads the rankings, race rankings, this year. He's had his best results overall. I think he matured as a player a lot.

"Clay is arguably his best surface. We played an epic five-setter last year in the semis here. I know it's going to be another tough one. I'm hoping I can recharge my batteries as much as I can because I'm going to need some power and energy for that one."

As much as Djokovic might recoil at the possibility of a brutal semi-final taking a heavy toll, there is evidence, contrary to his assessment, that he can struggle to raise his game for a grand slam title match after expending great energy in getting there.

It took him three hours and 54 minutes to score a five-set win over Tsitsipas in last year's Roland Garros semi-finals, and that was followed by a drubbing at Nadal's hands in the final. Djokovic won just seven games.

Before Friday's majestic clash with Nadal, the last time Djokovic had played a four-hour-plus semi-final at the French Open was in 2015 when he fended off Andy Murray in a gruelling five-setter. He went on to lose the final against world number nine Stan Wawrinka.

Djokovic also won a four-hour semi-final battle with Wawrinka at the 2013 US Open before losing to Nadal in the final, and earlier that year he fought off Juan Martin del Potro in a magnificent Wimbledon semi-final that lasted four hours and 43 minutes before being beaten by Murray in the title match.

If Djokovic is searching for recent evidence of his ability to follow a marathon semi-final with a match-winning turn in the title match, he would have to go back to Wimbledon in 2018, and even then there were circumstances that to some extent favoured the Serbian.

It took five hours and 15 minutes for Djokovic to overhaul Nadal in their All England Club semi-final which spanned two days, and he went on to demolish South African Kevin Anderson in the final.

However, that was hardly surprising given Anderson needed six hours and 24 minutes on the Friday to get past John Isner in his own semi-final – the longest semi-final in Wimbledon history.

That was after Anderson beat Roger Federer 13-11 in the deciding set of a marathon quarter-final, the upshot being that even if Djokovic was weary for the final after beating Nadal, he was facing a man who was practically out on his feet.

All this being said, Djokovic begins the final as favourite as he seeks a second French Open title in his sixth final appearance, and a 19th grand slam title overall.

Should he win, it would make him just the third man in history to win all four grand slam titles at least twice, after Roy Emerson and Rod Laver, and the first man to achieve that feat in the Open Era.

Amid all the talk of the 34-year-old Djokovic needing to physically recover, Tsitsipas' five-set semi-final exertions against Alexander Zverev are rather being overlooked.

That match clocked in at three hours and 37 minutes and will have been mentally and physically sapping for the 22-year-old Greek player, who, as Djokovic accurately pointed out, does lead the ATP Race to Turin standings, the table of 2021 form that decides the line-up for the ATP Finals in November.

Tsitsipas fended off a Zverev comeback, as the German recovered from two sets behind to force a decider on Friday, with the world number five showing serious big-game mettle in turning the momentum back his way.

The man who grew up near Athens, dreaming of playing on Court Philippe Chatrier, took a set off Djokovic when they met on clay in the Rome quarter-finals last month.

Now he has a first grand slam title in his sights, and looks as well equipped as any of the rising generation of young players to carry off multiple majors over the coming years.

"I'm proud of myself. I actually love what I'm doing," Tsitsipas said. "I love that I get to play in this stadium. I'm grateful for every single match that I get to play.

"I'm obviously just blessed to have the opportunity to play against the best and test myself, something that I've always dreamed and wished to happen one day. I'm able to be here and really going for it. I love that."

But as well as soaking in the experience, Tsitsipas wants to show he can be a champion at the highest level.

"It's time for me to go for my chances," he said. "I'm looking forward to that challenge. I'm looking forward to bringing my game to kind of challenge myself to step it up."

Novak Djokovic described the thrilling four-set win over Rafael Nadal that took him through to the French Open final as "the best match I was ever part of in Roland Garros".

A magnificent contest between two of the all-time greats saw 13-time French Open winner and reigning champion Nadal beaten 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The match, which ran to four hours and 11 minutes, was of such a level that tournament organisers sought and were awarded special dispensation to bypass the curfew which had been due to take effect at 23:00 local time.

It appeared, at the end of the third set, that spectators were about to be asked to leave the grounds, and the beginning of an announcement was booed as fans feared the worst.

But the message turned out to be as uplifting as the tennis, which was remarkable, Djokovic avenging his straight-sets loss in last year's title match.

"It was definitely the best match that I was ever part of in Roland Garros for me, and top three matches that I ever played in my entire career," Djokovic said.

"Considering the quality of tennis, playing my biggest rival on the court where he has had so much success and has been the dominant force in the last 15-plus years, and the atmosphere which was completely electric. For both players there was a lot of support. Just amazing.

"I was very happy that there was no curfew. I heard there was a special waiver, so they allowed the crowd to stay. Just one of these nights and matches that you will remember forever.

"It's hard to find words bigger than all the superlatives you can think of for Rafa's achievements in Roland Garros. He has been the most dominant player of Roland Garros history.

"He lost two, now three times, in his entire career. He's been playing here almost 20 years. That achievement speaks for itself."

Nadal raced into a 5-0 lead, but momentum was turning Djokovic's way by the time the Spaniard crept over the finish line in that opening set.

Djokovic becomes the first player to beat Nadal twice at Roland Garros, having done so previously in the 2015 quarter-finals, and the first man to defeat him in a semi-final at the clay-court grand slam. He now leads their all-courts career head-to-head by 30 wins to 28.

"Each time you step on the court with him, you know that you have to kind of climb Mount Everest to win against this guy here," Djokovic, the 2016 champion, said. "I had won only once in I think our eight matches that we ever played in Chatrier here in Roland Garros.

"I tried to take some positives and some cues from that match in 2015 that I won against him to implement tonight, which worked out very nicely. But it's just one of these matches that I really will remember for a very long time, not just because I won the match but because of the atmosphere and just the occasion was very special."

Nadal saw his hopes of a record 21st grand slam title this weekend slip away. That would have taken him past Roger Federer and into the outright all-time lead, but should Djokovic now carry off the trophy by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas, that will put the world number one on 19 slams, ahead of a Wimbledon championship for which he will start as many people's clear favourite.

The Big Three could all be on 20 slams in a matter of weeks.

Assessing a rare loss at his favourite tournament, Nadal said: "That's sport, you know. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I tried to give my best. Probably it was not my best day out there. Even if I fought and put in a lot of effort, the position on the shots haven't been that effective.

"Against a player like him that takes the ball early, you are not able to take him out of his positions, then it is very difficult, no?"

Nadal served eight double faults and perhaps the key error was a straightforward volley that he sent long in the tie-break, but the 35-year-old put in a typically warrior-like performance.

"These kind of mistakes can happen. But if you want to win, you can't make these mistakes," Nadal said. "So that's it. Well done for him. It has been a good fight out there. I tried my best, and today was not my day."

Novak Djokovic became the first player to beat Rafael Nadal twice at the French Open as he slowly picked apart the 13-time champion in a semi-final for the ages.

The world number one won 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in four hours and 11 minutes, setting up a shot at Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's final.

Djokovic got the better of Nadal in the quarter-finals in 2015, winning that one in straight sets, but this was an epic.

It even saw tournament organisers seek and receive permission to delay the event's curfew to allow spectators inside Court Philippe Chatrier to see it through to the end.

Nadal burst into a 5-0 lead in the opening set, evoking memories of his bagel that began last October's straight-sets dismantling of Serbian Djokovic in the final.

This match would not follow a similar plotline, however, and when Djokovic broke Nadal's serve on the way to getting back to 5-3, it was game on again.

Six set points came and went for Nadal, but the seventh went the Spaniard's way when Djokovic netted. It was already enthralling but there was better to come.

Djokovic sped 2-0 ahead in the second set but Nadal snatched back the break immediately and to love, sealing the game with a whipped forehand down the line.

This was a battle and Nadal was wobbling, especially when Djokovic had 0-40 against the Spaniard's serve in game six. Nadal saved two but not the third as Djokovic went 4-2 ahead. The rallies were glorious, the tension hard to bear, yet this was just the second set.

Djokovic's level dipped in the ninth game and Nadal had two break-back points but could take neither. When Djokovic survived that test, he had both a set and the momentum in his favour.

The greatest clay-court player in history was the first man to crack in the third set, Nadal broken despite saving two break points. Amid astonishing scenes of sporting theatre, Djokovic then saved two break points himself, windmilling his arms as the crowd – Nadal's crowd – chanted "Novak, Novak".

But Nadal kept coming, earning another break point, and this one he converted with a forehand down the line. They traded breaks again, Djokovic first and then, just when he was looking floored, a revived Nadal. One set all, five games all, three hours in. Nadal had a set point at 6-5 but an audacious drop shot rescued Djokovic.

Nerve failed Nadal with a volley at 4-3 in the tie-break, putting a relatively easy putaway over the baseline, and that proved costly, Djokovic seeing it out with an ace followed by a perfectly placed shot into his lunging opponent's forehand corner.

It seemed the contest was destined to finish in front of empty stands, but then came an announcement that the late-night curfew would be lifted for one night only.

"In agreement with the national authorities, the match will be allowed to continue to its end in your presence," the crowd were told. They began booing as the statement began, before realising the anticipated bad news was not coming.

Nadal broke serve in game one of the fourth set, but double faults were beginning to drip from his racket and his seventh of the match helped Djokovic soon get back on terms at 2-2.

And Djokovic broke again to lead 4-2, landing a service return on the baseline, with Nadal only able to dab the ball back into the net. He held in double quick time, and another double fault from Nadal set the tone for the final game. It was Djokovic's day and he completed a streak of six successive games to earn that final berth.
 

Data Slam: One step closer to 20 for Djokovic

If Nadal had seen off Djokovic here and followed up by beating Tsitsipas in the title match, he would have moved to 21 grand slam titles, going above Roger Federer and into the all-time lead for most singles majors in the men's game.

Instead the result opens the door for Djokovic to land his 19th slam this weekend, and very soon the Big Three could be tied together on 20. Perhaps they will finish their careers that way, but the way Djokovic fought here was a telling sign he believes he will finish his career top of the pile.

He is the first man to beat the Spaniard in a French Open semi-final, and he richly deserved this success.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 50/37
Nadal – 48/55

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 6/3
Nadal – 6/8

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 8/22
Nadal – 6/16

Barbora Krejcikova insists she belongs at the highest level of women's tennis as the surprise singles finalist attempts to achieve a French Open feat last accomplished 21 years ago.

France's own Mary Pierce was the most recent player to clinch singles and doubles titles in the same year at Roland Garros, beating Conchita Martinez in the 2000 singles final and teaming up with Martina Hingis to make it a twin trophy success.

On Saturday, Krejcikova can complete the first leg of her weekend's objective as she battles to become only the second woman playing under a Czech flag to triumph in singles at the Paris clay-court grand slam in the Open Era, after Hana Mandlikova's 1981 victory.

Martina Navratilova won the French Open title twice, in 1982 and 1984, but by that stage she was representing the United States, having previously been a runner-up for Czechoslovakia in 1975.

A world-class doubles star, Krejcikova has rocketed up the singles rankings in the past 18 months, having ended 2019 at 135th on the WTA list. Now up to a career-high 33rd, victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Court Philippe Chatrier would lift her to 15th.

Speaking on Friday, Krejcikova suggested the pandemic, and the enforced deceleration of the tennis tours, had given her the time to mix up her singles and doubles schedules when previously her diary was overly packed.

The 25-year-old had been playing lower-tier ITF singles events but main-tour WTA doubles, and it had been a difficult juggling act.

"I hope there will be no more ITFs in singles for me," Krejcikova said. "I want to stay on this level. I want to really work hard just to stay here, to be able to play such matches like this. It was really tough playing ITFs because the schedule, the WTA in doubles, the schedule was tough. It was tight.

"Sometimes we played well, then I missed the tournament, then I wasn't ready to play. It was difficult. But I really think that the pandemic really helped me.

"Right now I just want to keep the level. I don't want to go backwards."

Should she and Katerina Siniakova win the doubles on Sunday, when last year's singles champion Iga Swiatek and American Bethanie Mattek-Sands should provide tough opposition, it would mean Krejcikova goes back to number one in those rankings.

Krejcikova has a 14-3 singles record on clay this season, with only two WTA players winning more matches on the surface (Paula Badosa 17-3, Coco Gauff 16-4)

She will hope to become just the third unseeded women's singles champion in French Open history, after Swiatek (2020) and Jelena Ostapenko (2017).

After teaming up with Siniakova to scuttle Magda Linette and Bernarda Perra 6-1 6-2 in their doubles semi-final on Friday, Krejcikova said: "I hope we saved some power for the finals.

"I'm looking forward that I'm going to play two more times on Chatrier. It's always perfect to play this court because it's a beautiful court. I think it's going to be a lot of fun playing these two finals."

Pavlyuchenkova is three weeks away from turning 30 and would become the third-oldest first-time grand slam winner on the women's tour, after Flavia Pennetta (33 years 200 days, 2015 US Open) and Ann Jones (30 years 261 days, 1969 Wimbledon).

She would also become the oldest Russian woman to win a singles major, taking that statistic away from Maria Sharapova who was 27 when she scooped her fifth and final slam in 2014 at Roland Garros.

Sitting 32nd in the rankings, she would jump to 14th by taking the title but is guaranteed to jump back into the top 20, for the first time since January 2018.

Pavlyuchenkova banished her grand slam quarter-final jinx this week, having lost all six of her previous last-eight singles matches at that stage in grand slams, including a 2011 loss to Francesca Schiavone at Roland Garros. She will hope her first trek beyond the quarters is not her last.

"It's been a long road. It's been a lot of ups and downs. It's been a tough one," said Pavlyuchenkova, who is playing in her 52nd grand slam.

"I definitely didn't expect this year being in the final. I guess you can't expect those things. I was just there working hard, doing everything possible. I just said to myself, 'You know what, this year let's do whatever it takes, anything you can do to improve your game, your mentality'.

"I started working with a sports psychologist, everything. I wanted to give it a try so I have no regrets after. That's it."

One thing is for sure: a new grand slam champion is about to be crowned, and Paris is used to that. The past five Roland Garros champions have all been new to the slam-winning experience, with Garbine Muguruza's maiden major in 2016 followed by breakthroughs for Ostapenko, Simona Halep, Ash Barty and Swiatek.

Stefanos Tsitsipas fended off a fightback from Alexander Zverev at the French Open to become the first Greek to reach a grand slam singles final.

The two men left standing from a wide-open bottom half of the draw delivered a fascinating encounter, which Tsitsipas appeared to be dominating after claiming the first two sets.

However, Zverev came from two sets down against Pablo Carreno Busta to reach the final of the US Open last year and threatened to repeat the feat by storming back to send this last-four clash to a decisive set.

Yet the levels Zverev reached across the third and fourth sets largely deserted him in the fifth and Tsitsipas took advantage to prevail 6-3 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3 and set up a meeting with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in the final.

A poor start from Zverev gave Tsitsipas the early impetus as he broke for a 2-0 lead, thanks in part to a pair of double faults in the German's opening service game.

He consolidated for a 3-0 cushion and that edge was all Tsitsipas needed to take the opening set. The tide looked to be turning when Zverev surged 3-0 up in the second, only for Tsitsipas to rattle off the next six games and take command.

But Zverev did not let his advantage slip after an early break in the third and, if he needed any further fire to fuel a comeback, it came in the ninth game as he launched a tirade at the umpire after an incorrect call went Tsitsipas' way.

Zverev subsequently served out the third with little difficulty and maintained his momentum to strike in the opening game of the fourth set, the break of serve prompting a furious reaction from Tsitsipas this time.

No further breaks were required for Zverev to send the match to a fifth, which he did with an unreturned serve after an exquisite lob brought up two set points.

However, the fourth set had been an engrossing battle between the aggressiveness of Zverev and the superb defence and accuracy of Tsitsipas, and it was those traits that helped the latter get ahead in the decider.

Zverev ripped a backhand into the net to give Tsitsipas a 3-1 lead that he refused to relinquish, clinching victory on his fifth match point with a history-making ace out wide.

Barbora Krejcikova felt the guiding hand of Jana Novotna influence her stunning 7-5 4-6 9-7 Roland Garros victory over Maria Sakkari as the former doubles expert reached a first singles grand slam final.

Five times a slam winner in doubles, in which she is a former world number one, Krejcikova has diverted a large part of her focus to singles.

Novotna – the former Wimbledon champion and two-time French Open semi-finalist – helped to coach and mentor Krejcikova in the early stages of her professional career.

The death of Novotna from cancer in 2017 hit Krejcikova and many others in tennis hard, yet the rookie finalist continues to feel her fellow Czech is watching out for her.

"When I'm on court, I only think about tennis. I don't really think about anything else. So I was just thinking about tennis," Krejcikova said.

"I was just thinking about next ball, thinking where she's going to serve, where I should serve, what shot should I play, where should I place the ball.

"I don't really think about the things from outside. It's something actually she taught me. I just try to do that.

"Like every time before the match or after the match I just feel like she's there, she's looking after me."

Sakkari had a match point when 5-3 ahead in the third set against Krejcikova but the 17th seed went on to lose in Thursday's chaotic battle.

When that big chance came her way, the Greek player floated a short backhand that Krejcikova smashed away with a nerveless drive volley.

"I have to be deadly honest: I got stressed," Sakkari said. "I was starting thinking that I'm a point away from being in the final. I guess it's a rookie mistake."

There was a reprieve late in the decider for Sakkari when a shot of hers landed out and was signalled as being out, but the chair umpire overruled, incorrectly. That was on a match point for Krejcikova, who had to rein back her excitement and play another point.

"At that moment I was just like, 'Well, it's out, but what can you do?'," Krejcikova said.

On Saturday, Krejcikova faces the biggest match of her life, against fellow pre-tournament long shot, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The world number 32 and 33 will meet in the biggest women's match of the clay-court season, an outcome nobody expected.

Krejcikova won her first career singles title in the lead-up to this fortnight, triumphing impressively in Strasbourg.

She has a French Open title already in her back pocket, having landed the women's doubles with Katerina Siniakova in 2018.

There could yet be a twin title success for Krejcikova this weekend, as the 25-year-old and Siniakova have a doubles semi-final ahead of them on Friday.

"I always wanted to play tournaments like this, big tournaments, big opponents, last rounds," Krejcikova said, speaking of her new-found singles prowess.

"It was just taking so long. It just took me some time, but I think right now it's actually the right moment. Especially mentally, I think I'm just there.

"I really matured. I just really appreciate things a lot, especially after what I've gone through, also with this pandemic and everything."

Page 1 of 7
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.