In 2008 a somewhat curious study was published in England.
It was found there that football teams in red jerseys win more often.
It is uncertain whether this realization has also established itself with Novak Djokovic.
In the final of the French Open on Sunday, however, he proved that the thesis may also have something for itself in tennis.
For two sentences, Djokovic in a white shirt looked like the sure loser against the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Then the shirt changed and stormed to victory: in red.
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A final without the participation of the great dominator Rafael Nadal, that hadn't happened at the French Open since 2016.
This has only happened three times in the past 16 years.
It is the era of Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard won 13 times, lost twice in the course of the tournament, and once he did not appear injured.
Now Paris has a new king.
Even if this is a well-known one at the same time.
With 6: 7 (6: 8), 2: 6, 6: 3, 6: 2, 6: 4 Djokovic wrestled his opponent Tsitsipas down in a final that was thrilling at least in phases.
He won his 19th Grand Slam title, the second on the red ashes of Paris.
Djokovic is now the first player to win the four most important tennis tournaments in the world multiple times.
It is another milestone in the Serbian’s career, which is so rich in milestones.
Djokovic defeated Nadal in the semifinals
At the autumn tournament last year there was a duel between Tsitsipas and Djokovic in the semifinals. At the time, the latter initially seemed on the way to a smooth victory. In the third set he even had a match point before Tsitsipas turned it up and forced the Serbian into a five-sentence thriller. In the end, Djokovic won anyway, but left a lot of strength in the grueling match. In the final against Rafael Nadal, he had no chance two days later.
This time, the tournament's dramaturgy was reversed. Djokovic met Nadal in the semifinals and defeated the Spaniard in a thrilling, spectacular, but again very exhausting match. For Nadal it was only the third defeat at the French Open. Djokovic later compared the victory against the record winner and “clay court king” of Paris with climbing Mount Everest.
Tsitsipas had to struggle over five sets in his semi-final against the German Alexander Zverev, but the game was not quite as intense as Djokovic's duel with Nadal. As a result, the 22-year-old entered the final a little fresher than his counterpart. At least that's how it worked in the first rallies of the match. Tsitsipas was active, brave, variable. You could see that he had come up with a clear plan for the first Grand Slam final of his still young career: the trickery tactic.
The match was high class from the start. Up to 5: 5, both players were harmless in their service games. Then break followed break. In the end, the first round alone should take 72 minutes. Both players delivered thrilling rallies, each earning set balls. The audience, after all 5000 were admitted to the final on the Court Philippe Chatrier, tore it from their seats early.
In the second set, Tsitsipas looked a little more awake and Djokovic a little more tired. On his break to 1-0, Tsitsipas added another a short time later. He was now the clearly dominant player, and the way to his first Grand Slam success seemed paved. But maybe Djokovic was only gathering the strength for his counter-attack. After losing the second round, he disappeared into the cabin and exchanged his shirt. Then came back to the square as if transformed.
Djokovic has never made a secret of the fact that hunting for the various bests in his sport is important to him. He wants to become the best tennis player in history and that is also backed up by records. He traveled to Paris with 18 Grand Slam titles. So two less than Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Now it's only one. The dogged ambition to be better than his long-term rivals has been what drives him for years.
And so Djokovic reared up again in the match against Tsitsipas. In 2015 he had already beaten Nadal on his favorite place in Paris and then still did not win the tournament. That shouldn't happen to him again. While Tsitsipas increasingly quarreled with himself, Djokovic was now calm. He seemed to be meditating as he switched sides. Suddenly he looked fitter, hardly made any simple mistakes anymore. He managed an early break in sets three, four and five. He didn't give up his own serve until the match point was transformed after 4:11 hours.
Since 2004 no player had turned a 2-0 set deficit in the French Open final. At that time Gaston Gaudio succeeded in a purely Argentine final against Guillermo Coria. The following year the era of Rafael Nadal began. And nobody knew about the power of the red jerseys back then.