Novak Djokovic (267928)
Credit: Margot Jordan photo

The French Open ushered in a normalcy to the sport of tennis that has been  missed since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020. The combination of controversy and great tennis on the clay courts of Roland-Garros has made fans not only anxious for the upcoming Wimbledon and US Open tournaments, but also appreciative. 

Wimbledon, scheduled for June 28 through July 11 and the US Open, set to take place August 30 through September 12, will welcome Novak Djokovic and Barbora Krejcikova, the French Open’s men’s and women’s singles champions. 

With fellow Czechian teammate Katerina Siniakova, Krejcikova also won her third women’s doubles championship. She’s the first player to win both the singles and doubles at a Grand Slam since Serena Williams in 2016 at Wimbledon.

To capture the singles trophy, the first Grand Slam of her career, Krejcikova, 25, defeated Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets, winning 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. To reach the finals, Krejcikova defeated two of the five women of color who also participated at the French, besting Sloane Stephens last Monday in the fourth round followed by a win over Coco Gauff last Wednesday in the quarter finals.

Williams, seeking her 24th Grand Slam title, was defeated in the fourth round. Madison Keys exited in Round 3 and Naomi Osaka withdrew from the tournament after winning first round victory due to mental health concerns, citing anxiety in fulfilling the Open’s requirements for players to participate in press interviews. 

Djokovic, winner of this year’s Australian Open, took home his second French Open title and 19th major title after comeback wins over Rafael Nadal in the semifinals last Friday and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Finals on Sunday. 

Against Nadal, a 3 hour, 28 minute, four-set match, in front of 5,000 fans, a third of the stadium’s capacity limited by COVID restrictions, Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 ranked men’s player won the match after dropping the first set 6-3. He went on to take the next three by 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 and advanced to face Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas, from Greece, the men’s No. 5 seed at the Open, had Djokovic down two sets, 7-6, 6-2, before succumbing 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. 

Following the win, Djokovic shared the inner conflict he experienced while battling Tsitsipas. “There is one (voice) telling you that you can’t do it, that it’s done, it’s finished. That voice was pretty strong after that second set,” said Djokovic.

“So I felt that was a time for me to actually vocalize the other voice, and try to suppress the first one that was saying, ‘I can’t make it.’ I told myself, ‘I can do it,’ encouraged myself. I strongly started to repeat that inside of my mind, tried to live it with my entire being.”