Of course, it is first of all a victory against the Greek Stéfanos Tsitsipás who will have to wait a little longer to engrave his name on the trophy of a grand slam. At 22, the young Greek still has time to think about it, especially since this edition of Roland Garros has allowed him to take a step forward: a first final in a major tournament, after a half in 2019 in Melbourne and two in Paris (2020 and 2021).
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But this triumph for Novak Djokovic goes well beyond Tsitsipás. Sunday June 13, on Philippe Chatrier court, the Serbian crossed a door that refused to open to him. He was also aware of having pushed it well, Friday 11 in half against Rafael Nadal. “My biggest match at Roland Garros and one of the three biggest matches of my entire career”, he had declared.
He joins Rod Laver and Roy Emerson
He added a new dimension to his legend by joining Rod Laver and Roy Emerson in the ultra-select club of players from the Open era (after 1968) to have won at least twice each of the four Grand Slam tournaments. Already bigger then, than Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, even if he remains eternally behind the charts of the hearts of tennis fans, who have always preferred the grinta (impetuosity) of the Spaniard and the elegance of the Swiss.
Rid of (temporarily?) Rafael Nadal’s tutelage on earth, he can dream of overtaking his two eternal enemies in the big book of tennis. They have 20 grand slams on the clock, he had 18 so far and could not catch up with the Spaniards because of his absolute mastery of Roland Garros. With 19 titles in his wallet now and the acquired ability to get Rafael Nadal out of his Parisian home, he can reasonably dream of the twentieth, at least next at Wimbledon or New York in September.
A game less tiring than that of Nadal
From the height of his 40 years, Roger Federer seems a tone below and he is not sure that the green grass of Wimbledon, his favorite ground, is enough for his happiness. As for Rafael Nadal, he has slowed down lately. His terribly demanding game, more than that of the Serbian, has worn him down and the 35-year-old Mallorcan accumulates small and big injuries. Beware of those who bury him too quickly, but his body remembers too much of him lately for him to hope to play extra time for very long.
The Serb, for his part, is frolicking like a young man despite his 34 springs. He has never experienced major injuries other than mental. And on that side, the machine seems to be set off again at full speed. After his semi-final, Mats Wilander’s commentary in The team must have made him happy. “He’s five years younger!” “, enthused the former Swedish winner of Roland Garros.
Five years, the equivalent of 20 possible grand slams! An eternity in a playing career of this level. Novak Djokovic therefore has plenty of time to exceed the twenty mark. Unless he is caught by the rear, and the pack of young wolves who are getting closer and closer to the old lions. Stefanos Tsitsipás, Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev and the less young Dominque Thiem will not be told forever.
A Frenchman titled in junior
In the junior tournament, moreover, the 100% tricolor final was won on Saturday by Luca Van Assche, at the expense of Arthur Fils (6-4, 6-2). In doubles, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert won the fourth grand slam of their careers, the second at Roland Garros after their victory in 2018.