Flashback to Roland-Garros 2021

So many spectacular and historic moments were packed into a fortnight of tennis in Paris.

Novak Djokovic Roland-Garros 2021©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Roland-Garros 2021 was an edition that will live long in the memory.

Whether it was a clutch of players vying to be the greatest ever or competitors storming onto the major stage, there are almost too many moments to pluck out.

Here is a selection of some of the key headlines from earlier this summer…

‘Top three’ achievement for Djokovic

It was 48 hours which could shape the roll of honour of men’s tennis.

Stefanos Tsitsipas proved he is fulfilling his potential, Daniil Medvedev finally found his feet on the clay, Dominic Thiem had fallen to a forlorn first hurdle exit, but world No.1 Novak Djokovic demonstrated his extensive credentials to be hailed the ‘greatest’ ever with two gladiatorial performances.

The box office semi-final versus 13-time champion Rafael Nadal was widely dubbed on social media as one of the best matches ever – head onto our Youtube channel – the points were simply pulsating; computer game rallies were roared on by a star struck crowd in the four-hour-plus epic 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

“Definitely the best match that I was part of ever in Roland-Garros for me, and top three matches that I ever played in my entire career,” declared Djokovic, snapping Nadal’s 35-match winning streak at the tournament.

Well, two days later the Serbian’s never-say-die attitude was on full display, reeling in Tsitsipas 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to lift his second title on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Enhancing the feat, Djokovic became the first man in the Open Era to win the four majors twice and to come from two sets down twice en route to a Grand Slam title (including his fourth-round triumph over the swagger and style from Lorenzo Musetti – watch out for this Italian hotshot reel next summer!)

“I couldn't be happier and more satisfied with this kind of scenario in the last 48 hours,” Djokovic added, heading onto 19 majors one behind Nadal and Roger Federer.

“Probably ranks at the top three all-time achievements and experiences that I had in my professional tennis career.”

Wimbledon came, Djokovic ruled and made it 20-20-20 Grand Slams amongst the ‘Big Three.’ Simply wow!

Inspired Krejcikova emerges as major player

Prior to Paris Barbora Krejcikova had lifted two women’s doubles and three mixed doubles Grand Slams, but sustained singles success had evaded the Czech’s grasp.

Due to the quality, versatility and unpredictability of women’s tennis, plenty of favourites lost early doors. World No.1 Ash Barty exited with injury in the second round, Serena Williams was looking good before being dismissed by an explosive Elena Rybakina showing.

As the draw opened up, Krejcikova kept her composure with an all-court craft moulded in doubles to become the first Czech woman to win the singles title since Hana Mandlikova in 1981.

Last Autumn at RG2020 Krejcikova was ranked world No.114 and at the time of her major triumph she was at world No.33. It was only the 25-year-old’s fifth Grand Slam singles main draw. Talk about outside chances.

Saving match point in an edge-of-the-seat semi-final with Maria Sakkari sent Krejcikova into dreamland, where she edged Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.

Adding to the charm and feel-good factor behind Krejcikova’s captivating run, the Czech paid an emotional tribute to her mentor and former coach Jana Novotna.

"I was going through a really hard time when Jana was passing away (2017)... Pretty much her last words were, 'Just enjoy and just try to win a Grand Slam.’ I know that from somewhere she's looking out for me and I just want to really thank her.”

Alongside Katerina Siniakova, Krejcikova emerged as the first woman to win singles and doubles titles in the same year in Paris since Mary Pierce in 2000

There was even more Czech success as Linda Novoska took the girls’ singles silverware.

Pavlyuchenkova epitomises perseverance

The high-calibre of the seeded players, combined with the quality bursting throughout the draw, means patience and perseverance is required at the top tier. Step forward Pavlyuchenkova.

The Russian, competing in her 52nd major main draw, navigated past No.3 seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-0 in the decider, Victoria Azarenka from a set down to then edge Rybakina 9-7 in the third set, banishing demons of six Grand Slam quarter-final exits to reach a maiden major final.

“I'll keep on going,” she said. “I want to believe that the best is yet to come, so I think that's how I should approach the whole situation.” 

Golden pathway to glory

No tennis player across any division of the sport had collected the singles Calendar Golden Slam since Steffi Graf lifted all four majors and the Seoul Olympics gold medal in 1988.

Not one, but two players joined her in 2021.

Wheelchair players Diede de Groot and Dylan Alcott both took home the trophies from Paris en route to the incredible accomplishment.

As ever, the gregarious Australian Alcott had some inspirational words for us to ponder.

“People think that my purpose in life is winning Grand Slams and tennis tournaments and gold medals and stuff like that,” said Alcott. “But my real purpose in life is trying to change perceptions so people with disability can do whatever they want to do.”

Brit Alfie Hewett proved his clay-court prowess once again, defending his men’s wheelchair singles and doubles titles.

Home heroes

With a booming rendition of ‘La Marseillaise,’ the home support saluted Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, who reclaimed the men’s doubles trophy.

“At the end we're here with the trophy. It's amazing. With the family, with our wives, sons, it's something that you're lucky when it happens once in your life,” explained Mahut. “This is the second time for us. We could not be any happier.”

The future of French tennis is looking especially bright on the boys’ side. It was the first time in history a quartet of French youngsters competed in the last four in the boys' singles at the same Grand Slam. Luca Van Assche took the honours, toppling Arthur Fils in the final.