Novak Djokovic fought back from two sets down to beat Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to win the French Open title for the second time on Sunday.
The Serbian world number one increased his Grand Slam tally to 19 titles, and is now one adrift of the men’s record held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Tsitsipas recovered from a break down to win the opening set in a tiebreak before he raced through the second set.
But Djokovic was determined to ensure that all the effort he put in to beat 13-time Roland Garros champion Nadal in the semi-finals did not go to waste and he started to assert his authority to win the third set.
Before the start of the fourth set, the 22-year-old Greek requested the trainer to come on court to manipulate and massage his lower back.
But that intervention failed to revive Tsitsipas’ fortunes and Djokovic was virtually unchallenged in the fourth set.
The 34-year-old, who won his first French crown in 2016, rattled through the third and fourth sets as Tsitsipas, playing in his first Grand Slam final, struggled to maintain the intensity that had put him in charge.
Fifth seed Tsitsipas appeared to be struggling physically but valiantly tried to dig in at the start of the fifth set as the shadows spread across a sunlit Court Philippe Chatrier.
But Djokovic got the early break in the decider and although he was pushed hard, he was never threatened again.
There were nerves as he served at 5-4, netting an easy volley and then seeing a Tsitsipas backhand flash past him on championship point. But Djokovic would not be denied as he claimed victory by angling away another volley at the second time of asking after four hours 11 minutes.
In moving just one behind the record of 20 shared by Nadal and Roger Federer, Djokovic became the first player in the professional era to win each Grand Slam title at least twice.
“It was again an electric atmosphere. Nine hours of tennis in less than 48 hours,” Djokovic said on court.
“It’s not easy; physically and mentally it was very, very difficult for me, these three days. I believed in my capacities and in my game. It’s a dream come true.”