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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday October 9, 2020

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic topped Stefanos Tsitsipas to set a dream final with Rafael Nadal in Paris.

Photo Source: Getty

Novak Djokovic was pushed into a deciding fifth set by Stefanos Tsitsipas in Friday’s second semifinal at Roland Garros, but the World No.1 was able to rally past the Greek to take his place in the final, 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1.

Tennis Express

What looked to be a straight-sets victory suddenly shifted as Tsitsipas saved a match point at 4-5 in the third set and then went on to claim the third and fourth sets in dramatic fashion.

It was a dramatic turn of events, but one that the world No.1 handled with poise as he restored order in the fifth set to book a spot in his 27th major final.

"I was definitely not pleased with the way I played the finishing stages of the third and fourth set, but I was very pleased with the way I kept my composure mentally throughout the entire match," Djokovic said. "I did feel that even though I lost the third and fourth, I still felt like I was the better player on the court. I had more control. I just felt comfortable playing.

The Serb was quick to complement the fighting spirit of Tsitsipas after their three hour and 54 minute battle. He respected the fact that the Greek showed great heart in extending a match that looked to be all but over at the end of set three.

"Credit to him for fighting back," Djokovic said. "He just played terrific tennis, especially in the fourth set when he was facing break points. I had many opportunities to break his serve in the fourth and finish the match earlier. He's a fighter. He's one of the best players in the world. Deservedly so. Obviously he was also fighting for his first Grand Slam final. Of course, there was a lot at stake for him. He was motivated to try to turn the match around, which he did very well."

Tsitsipas wasn’t able to compete with all his gusto in the final set however, and Djokovic pounced, running away with the contest to take his spot in the final next to 12-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal.

"I feel, I can say, happy and at the same time sad," Tsitsipas said. "Could have been a better result for me today. Novak showed once again what an incredible athlete and his ability on the courts. Was difficult, for sure, playing him. I think one of the most difficult opponents I've faced in my entire life. I have huge respect for that."

Djokovic improves to 216-1 when leading two sets to love at Grand Slams, and 4-2 against Tsitsipas overall.

The Serb was unable to notch the critical break against Tsitsipas in a tense fourth set that saw the Greek save 10 of 11 break points.

Djokovic appeared to be in much better shape than he was during his quarterfinal against Pablo Carreno Busta on Wednesday. The World No.1 was battling neck and shoulder issues on that day, but today he had more than enough energy to ward off a gritty, never-say-die performance from Tsitsipas.

It sets up a dream final between the top two seeds - a fitting way to close the curtains on a strange Grand Slam season.

Nadal and Djokovic will meet for the 56th time on Sunday in Paris. The Serb owns the 29-26 edge, but Nadal has the edge in Paris, at 6-1.

This is the third time they’ll meet in a Roland Garros final, with Nadal taking the trophy in 2012 and 2014.

Djokovic defeated Nadal for the first and only time in Paris in 2015, when he notched 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Nadal.

"I mean, look, regardless of the conditions, he's still there, he's Rafa, he's in the finals and we're playing on clay. Best-of-five playing him in the finals at Roland Garros, I know that feeling," Djokovic said. "I did lose to him on this court most of the matches that we played, but I also won one match in 2015 in straight sets in quarters.

"That's the match that I'll look back at and obviously try to take some positives out of it and use it tactically against him. I'm not feeling exhausted physically so much after tonight's match, obviously almost four hours. It was a great battle. But I feel fine. I think a day and a half will be plenty of time for me to recover. I'm really looking forward to a great battle with Rafa."


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