French Open runner-up Tsitsipas says he learned a lesson

Stefanos Tsitsipas describes his first Grand Slam final as an education

PARIS – When Stefanos Tsitsipas’ first Grand Slam final ended, he sank into his changeover chair and buried his head in a towel.

Novak Djokovic has that effect on opponents.

Tsitsipas took a big lead and appeared to be on his way to an upset victory at the French Open, but Djokovic made an impossible comeback to win his 19th major title on Sunday, 6-7(6), 2-6, 6- 3, 6- 2, 6-4.

“What I learned today is that whatever happens for the match to end, you have to win three sets, not two,” Tsitsipas said. “The two sets don’t really make sense.”

Not against Djokovic, who crossed a two-set deficit for the second time in the tournament and for the sixth time in his career. He took a break from the bathroom after the second set and dominated thereafter, never facing a break point in the final three sets.

“I don’t know what happened there, but he suddenly came back like a different player,” Tsitsipas said. “He played really well. He didn’t give me a place.”

The turnaround was surprising because at 22, Tsitsipas is 12 years younger than Djokovic, and the Greek appeared as a fresher in the first two sets.

But as Djokovic found his form and got better as the match progressed, Tsitsipas’s game slipped. His groundstrokes became less penetrating, and by the end he held on to a weary sense.

“I felt like my rhythm was off; I really don’t know why,” Tsitsipas said. “It was so weird seeing that I started finding my rhythm, finding my shots and mine on the court. The movement was perfect. And all of a sudden I just felt cold and out of it. I felt like I had lost my game a little bit. I wish I could really understand why.”

Tsitsipas was treated for a hip problem after the third set but ruled it out as a factor.

He was the youngest male finalist at Roland Garros since Rafael Nadal won the title in 2008, and was trying to become the first Greek to win a Grand Slam title.

“Despite my loss today, I am confident in my game,” Tsitsipas said. “I have full faith that I can get to that point very soon. I was close today.”


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