Updated: Jun 6
Novak Djokovic served up a storm to seal his 19th Grand Slam title as he overcame Stefanos Tsitsipas in the 2021 Roland Garros Final, in front of a buzzing crowd at Stade Philippe Chatrier in Paris. The world no.1 rallied from two sets down to lift his 2nd major crown in the French Capital – and in doing so demonstrated exactly why he is ranked above all his peers.
Just 7 months since Rafael Nadal conquered Paris for an unprecedented 13th time, the French Open returned to its usual slot on the tour towards the end of May. For the first 10 days of the tournament's 125th edition, in-house attendances were not permitted during night sessions due to a strict 7pm curfew however COVID-19 restrictions were eased last Wednesday which subsequently allowed for night session spectators, in addition to a general increase in crowd capacity from 1,000 up to 5,000.
Day 1 witnessed men's no.4 seed Dominic Thiem crash out to unseeded Pablo Andujar. Also on the opening day, Naomi Osaka was fined for skipping a post-match media presser; the ladies' no.2 seed withdrew from the tournament the following day, citing her mental health and social anxiety.
2016 French Open winner Garbine Muguruza exited in the opening round this year, as did current sixth seed Bianca Andreescu. Other early casualties amongst the ladies‘ tour included top seed & 2019 RG champion Ash Barty who retired in the second round due to injury.
Serena Williams lost in the 4th Round, in straight sets to Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. Williams has 23 majors to her name however she turns 40 later this year which suggests that time is ticking for her to elapse Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Slam successes.
2020 RG champion Iga Swiatek lost out in the quarter-finals to Maria Sakkari, who in turn would go on to lose in the semis to Barbora Krejcikova. Krejcikova had previously won against 17-year-old Coco Gauff in the quarters; born in 2004, the American is the youngest player ranked in the top 100 by the Women's Tennis Association.
The corresponding semifinal saw Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova get the better of Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek in straight sets. Between the four semi-finalists this year, none of them had previously reached the final 4 of any major tournament.
In the Final on Saturday, unseeded Krejcikova clinched her first Slam title as she beat out Pavlyuchenkova, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. Krejcikova doubled down on her success in Paris as she also won the ladies' doubles competition alongside fellow Czechia compatriot Katerina Siniakova; they defeated the duo of Swiatek & Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the Final on Sunday.
For the sixth year in succession the winner of the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen is a maiden Grand Slam champion.
In the Men's draw, all eyes were on last year's two finalists Djokovic and Nadal. Leading up to the second major of the year, the two icons met in the Final of the Italian Open; Nadal won by 2 sets to 1.
Home favourite Gael Monfils, 34, entered Roland Garros '21 as the highest-ranked French national however the 14th seed failed to make it past the second round, losing to unseeded 22-year-old Mikael Ymer.
Roger Federer, 39, took to the court in a major for the first time following an extensive recovery period from knee surgery. The 20-time Grand Slam winner claimed victory in his opening three RG matches before withdrawing from the competition, potentially with one eye on Wimbledon later this month.
On the way to a maiden major final, 22-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas saw off no.2 seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals and sixth seed Alexander Zverev in the semis to become the first Greek player to reach a Slam final.
In the meantime, on the way to reaching his 40th Grand Slam semi-final Djokovic battled young Italians, Lorenzo Musetti & Matteo Berrettini. An 11th French Open semi- awaited the Serb, against the king of clay Nadal in what was his 14th RG semi- appearance, having not lost any of his previous 13 encounters at the same stage.
The titanic rivalry between Nadal and Djokovic culminated in the pair’s 58th on-court meeting and after more than 4 hours of tantalising tennis, it was top seed Djokovic who emerged from a set down to advance to a 6th Final in Paris.
The Final on Sunday was nothing shy of a thrilling affair. At two sets down, Djokovic sprung to life in sets 3&4 to take the 2021 Final to a fifth and deciding set. Tsitsipas crumbled under pressure and played right into Djokovic's hands to land the world no.1 his 2nd Coupe des Mousquetaires.
Final score: 6-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
Djokovic's record in Grand Slam Finals now sits at 29 played, 19 won: a success rate of 65%.
This also means that the 34-year-old Serbian is within touching distance of Federer's and Nadal's all-time record tally of 20 honours apiece.
Djokovic becomes the first and only player in the Open Era to have won all four major championships at least twice each.
Since 2005 there have been 65 Grand Slams to date, of which just 10 were won by someone other than Djokovic, Federer or Nadal.
Players see out the clay season and move to grass ahead of the Wimbledon Championships which commences 28 June.