Djokovic v Tsitsipas: The Rivalry

Recapping six epic matches between Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas
January 28, 2023
Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas clash at Roland Garros in 2021.
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas clash at Roland Garros in 2021. By ATP Staff

The 13th ATP Head2Head matchup between Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas will play out on Sunday in the 2023 Australian Open final, with the contest doubling as a straight shootout for No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Ahead of the title match, breaks down six classic matches between the pair.

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2022 Rolex Paris Masters SF, hard, Djokovic d. Tsitsipas 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4)
Djokovic extended his winning streak to eight straight matches against Tsitsipas with this gutsy victory, claiming the final four points of the match after falling behind by a mini-break in the decisive tie-break. In a high-quality contest that ebbed and flowed, Djokovic was at his best early and late, though Tsitsipas nearly snatched victory after edging ahead 4/3 in the tie-break.

The pair combined for 63 winners and just 23 unforced errors with clean hitting at the ATP Masters 1000 event. Djokovic's dominant serving made the difference, as he won 84 per cent (41/49) of his first-serve points and did not face a break point in the first or third set.

"Deservedly so, we went into — both of us — into an even battle all the way until the last point, until the last shot," the Serbian said. "Some incredible points towards the end. I'm just really glad to overcome this challenge." Read Match Report.

Djokovic won all four of his 2022 matches against Tsitsipas, dropping just one set across matches in Rome, Astana, Paris and Turin.

<a href=''>Novak Djokovic</a> earns a hard-fought victory against <a href=''>Stefanos Tsitsipas</a> at the 2022 ATP Masters 1000 event in Paris.

2021 Roland Garros Final, clay, Djokovic d. Tsitsipas 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Tsitsipas was within touching distance of his first Grand Slam title after a battling performance in set one and a dominant display in set two, with the Greek firmly in the ascendency behind his attacking game. But Djokovic left the court after losing the second set and emerged as a "different player", shifting the match decisively when play resumed.

Suddenly it was the Serbian on the front foot as he dialled up the aggression and introduced doubt into his opponent's game. He did not face a break point in the final three sets, controlling each one behind an early break.

"I managed to make a break, early break in the third," Djokovic said post-match. "After that, I felt like I got into his head. I feel like I started swinging through the ball better. The momentum was on my side, it shifted. There was no looking back from that moment.”

With his first comeback from two-sets-to-love in a major final, Djokovic won his 19th Slam title and his second in Paris. The victory also sealed a historic feat for the Serbian, making him the first player in the Open Era – and only the third player in history – to achieve the career Grand Slam twice. Read Match Report.

<a href=''>Stefanos Tsitsipas</a> and <a href=''>Novak Djokovic</a> embrace after a five-set thriller at <a href=''>Roland Garros</a> in 2021.

2021 Internazionali BNL d'Italia QF, clay, Djokovic d. Tsitsipas 4-6, 7-5, 7-5
In a match played across two days in Rome, Tsitsipas slept on a set-and-a-break lead before Djokovic began to find his footing on the clay. Trailing 6-4, 2-1 overnight, the Serbian forced a deciding set on Saturday, then twice battled back from a break deficit to advance to the Rome semi-finals for the eighth straight year.

Tsitsipas served for the match at 5-4 in the third, but fell victim to his opponent's unrelenting consistency and depth in the closing stages, several untimely errors proving his undoing.

“There are many things to say about today or yesterday’s match. It kind of felt like we played two matches," Djokovic reflected. "The one yesterday, where he was the better player. He started better today also. I managed to somehow to hold my nerve [and] break his serve in the important moments in the second and third sets." Read Match Report.

<a href=''>Novak Djokovic</a> rallies from a set down to defeat <a href=''>Stefanos Tsitsipas</a> at the 2021 ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome.

2020 Roland Garros SF, clay, Djokovic d. Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1
Djokovic nearly scored a straightforward victory in his first Grand Slam meeting with Tsitsipas, but the Greek's heavy hitting erased a match point at 5-4 in the third set and set the stage for a lengthy battle that clocked in at just under four hours.

With new life, Tsitsipas continued to pummel his groundstrokes and attack the Djokovic backhand. He fought off 10 of 11 break points in the fourth set, converting two from two on return, but ran out of steam in the fifth as Djokovic reasserted himself on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“I was definitely not pleased with the way I played the finishing stages of the third and fourth sets, but I was very pleased with the way I kept my composure mentally throughout the entire match,” said Djokovic. “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." Read Match Report.

Djokovic improved to 37-1 on the 2020 season with the victory, though he would be turned back by Rafael Nadal in a three-set final.

<a href=''>Novak Djokovic</a> and <a href=''>Stefanos Tsitsipas</a> meet in the semi-finals of <a href=''>Roland Garros</a> in 2020.

2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters QF, hard, Tsitsipas d. Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-3
Tsitsipas improved to 2-1 in this young rivalry with a stirring comeback to earn his first win against a reigning World No. 1. Djokovic cruised to the opening set, but Tsitsipas claimed the second with his first break, then saw home an early advantage in the decider.

After hitting two aces as he served out the match, the Greek punctuated his statement win with an overhead.

“It's the best comeback that I have ever had probably," Tsitsipas reflected. "It was a very difficult victory mentally too. I wasn't really thinking that long term that I have to win two sets. It just went step by step. It happened. I broke him, I won the set, I stayed there, broke him again, eventually I got the win at the end. I wasn't really thinking too much in the future, and I think that helped a lot." Read Match Report.

That same day, Tsitsipas qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time thanks to other results. He would mark his debut at the season finale with a surprise title, defeating Dominic Thiem in third-set tie-break in the London final.

<a href=''>Stefanos Tsitsipas</a> celebrates his second win over <a href=''>Novak Djokovic</a> at the 2019 ATP Masters 1000 event in Shanghai.

2018 National Bank Open R16, Tsitsipas d. Djokovic 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3
Earning the second of four consecutive Top 10 wins in Toronto, Tsitsipas opened this ATP Head2Head series with a victory that helped propel him into stardom. Just days before his 20th birthday, the Greek introduced the world to his fearless game, closing out the win in fitting style with a ripped forehand winner.

"I feel very proud for me, myself, and my country. I'm putting Greece more deep into the map of tennis," the then 18-year-old said after the victory. "So I'm pretty sure I'm making my family proud, all of those people that are watching, my coach, my father. It was a very emotional win. I've never felt so many emotions after a victory." Read Match Report.

The Greek would go on to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final with wins against Thiem, Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Kevin Anderson.

<a href=''>Stefanos Tsitsipas</a> at the 2018 ATP Masters 1000 event in Toronto.

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