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French Open: Tsitsipas 'could easily have cried' after Djokovic defeat but believes grand slam is close

By Joe Wright
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic

Paris, June 14: 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."

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Story first published: Monday, June 14, 2021, 2:30 [IST]
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