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By Richard Pagliaro

Holding a two-set lead in the French Open final, Stefanos Tsitsipas could see the finish line as clearly as the baseline.

Then world No. 1 Novak Djokovic climbed off the red clay canvas and fought his way past Tsitsipas to his 19th major championship with a 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 triumph.

More: Djokovic Rallies to 19th Grand Slam Title in Paris

In a rematch of the 2020 Roland Garros semifinal, Tsitsipas suffered his fifth straight loss to Djokovic.

Afterward, Tsitsipas summed up a gut-wrenching, four hour, 11-minute loss simply: he didn't finish what he started.

"What I learned today is that no matter what, in order for the match to be finished, you have to win three sets and not two," Tsitsipas said. "Two sets doesn't really mean anything. It's still one away of winning the entire match."

Tennis Express

The Australian Open champion left the court to change clothes after dropping the second set and returned to impose his identity on the match. Tsitsipas said Djokovic was a different player after the break and lifted his level.

"I don't think I relaxed. I don't think I changed much," Tsitsipas said. "I just kept the same pace. I kept the things that were working for me. But it ended up, I don't know, he left the court after two sets to love down, I don't know what happened there, but he came back to me like a different player suddenly.

"I don't know. I have no idea. He played really well. He gave me no space."

Still, Tsitsipas will move up to a career-high No. 4 in the rankings and his athletic all-court game should translate to Wimbledon's lawns. Tsitsipas said if he sustains self-belief, he will raise a Grand Slam trophy someday.

"I believe, yes, I'm able to play for titles like this," Tsitsipas said. "Despite my loss today, I have faith in my game. I very much believe I can get to that point very soon. I was close today. Every opponent is difficult. There's a small difference between the player I played today and the ones from before.

"But I think with the same attitude and the same -- if I don't downgrade myself, I see no reason for me not to be holding that trophy one day."

Photo credit: Roland Garros Facebook