Roland-Garros 2021 Preview Day 15: The future of men’s tennis meets its never ending present in the French Open final

published: Jun, 12, 2021

by: Charles Blouin-Gascon

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 15 of the 2021 French Open.

In the end, we can’t really fault the French.

Once Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal settled on their typical slow dance in the first set of their semifinal match, pulling and tugging here and there, you knew it might just come to this. Once they started competing with one another, you knew that the curfew of 11pm local time was looming large.

You knew that eventually all the fans present at Court Philippe-Chatrier would need to be escorted out before the end of the semifinal if the match was at all competitive. Regardless if, you know, the curfew isn’t really much of a proven solution against the pandemic; rules are rules, and thou shall respect rules. (Or something.)

Curfew? What curfew?

Well that was without counting on the French’s unequal ability to surprise us. While the semifinal unfolded, right as Djokovic was winning a third set tiebreak to grab a 2–1 lead in sets, the French announced that the curfew was lifted. Why? «Due to the exceptional nature of the match,» they said.

Or look, here’s another way to put it.

To be fair, this wasn’t quite the match that will live on to reinvent men’s tennis, not by a long shot, nor was it even the best one of the Djokovic/Nadal rivalry. But it’s okay, that’s not the point here and we’re all prone to hyperbole in the heat of the moment.

Here we are for the men’s final. At the very least this time, the 11pm curfew won’t be a problem at all.

Day 15 preview

See our prediction for the outcome of this men’s final below as well as some sort of reasoning and explanation. Please, for the love of God, do not wager on the matches based on our picks: counting yesterday’s women’s final, we now have made 3 correct predictions against 10 wrong ones since the quarterfinals. That is very bad.

Court Philippe-Chatrier: Stefanos Tsitsipas [5] vs Novak Djokovic [1] (Not before 3pm local time)

Look, it’s pretty heartbreaking for Stefanos Tsitsipas. He is currently the youngest player in the ATP Top 10 as well as the highest ranked Greek player in history. He is also the first Greek player to make a Grand Slam final. He has also navigated what could have been a tricky main draw, facing and defeating four different seeded players fairly emphatically.

And yet? And yet, the Greek will be an absolutely massive underdog in the final, barely an afterthought. It’s not fair or fun, but such is the life in the current era of men’s tennis.

Down 0-5 in the first set of his semifinal match, very few at all imagined that it would be Djokovic emerging with the win against Nadal. The Serb handed the Spaniard only his third career loss in Paris and now has his sights set on becoming the first of his trio with Nadal and Roger Federer to hold multiple titles at all four Grand Slams.

Time for our prediction

Djokovic faces Tsitsipas in the men’s final, a player he’s beaten four times in a row and against whom he holds a 5-2 edge overall. He’s the clear favourite here but, as last year’s five-set semifinal match against the Greek proved, this doesn’t mean it will be easy. But he’ll get it done: Djokovic wins in five sets.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

Charles Blouin-Gascon

I'm the mastermind (I use this word very generously) of the 'Tennis Elbow' column, which looks at the previous week in the world of tennis. I try to bring humor to my coverage, because life's much better when you're smiling. I can also hit a mean backhand down the line.

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