ROME – Just in time.
Novak Djokovic lifted his first trophy of the year at the Italian Open on Sunday and proved he is back in top form exactly one week before the French Open begins.
After missing much of the season because he was not vaccinated against coronavirus, top-ranked Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0, 7-6 (5) for his sixth title in Rome.
“I’ve been building my shape over the last few weeks,” Djokovic said. “It couldn’t be a better time to get into Roland Garros.”
“Perfect setting for me,” Djokovic later added.
Earlier on red clay, Iga Swiatek defended the women’s title by beating Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-2 to extend her winning streak to 28 games.
Djokovic has not lost a set all week, winning his 1,000th match of his career against Casper Ruud in the semifinals.
Djokovic, who was deported due to his non-vaccination status before the Australian Open, had not won a tournament since lifting the Paris Masters trophy in November.
“It simply came to our notice then. With everything that happened in Australia, it took a while, “Djokovic said.” Here I found my best form. I’m going to Paris with a lot of confidence. “
It was Djokovic’s 12th final at the Italian Forum.
“This court has always been very, very special,” he said. “Dume joy when I really needed positive feelings. Whenever my form was a little low, I found energy in this city.”
Djokovic needed just half an hour to win the opening set, during which Tsitsipas was so frustrated at one point that he hit his racket against his bag during a change and shattered the frame.
After falling behind at the start of the second set, Djokovic stepped up his game when Tsitsipas drew for the set at 5-3.
First, Djokovic pulled off a straight-line scorer who fell on the line, then at the next point pushed Tsitsipas from corner to corner before the fifth-ranked Greek player resorted to a drop shot attempt that fell into the net. Djokovic celebrated with a series of punches as the crowd chanted his nickname, “NO-LE, NO-LE.”
When a setback from Tsitsipas came out in the first half, Djokovic simply raised his arms and smiled.
During the presentation of the trophies, Djokovic made a special dedication: “Today at 16:00, when we started this match, my 7-year-old son Stefan was playing his first tennis match. I hope you win. That ‘s for him. “
The 20-time Grand Slam champion reached the final of the Serbian Open at home last month. He was defeated by Carlos Alcaraz, 19, in the semifinals of the Madrid Open last week.
Djokovic produced 24 wins to Tsitsipas ’eight and only had 14 unforced errors to Tsitsipas’ 20.
Swiatek was the surprise champion at the French Open in 2020 when she was ranked 54th.
“I know I’ve done great things this season, so I feel like I can play freely,” Swiatek said. “Sure, expectations are higher, but I’ve never had a problem cutting it and not thinking about it. I’m also gaining experience in that. “
Swiatek has won five consecutive titles during his career.
“All these tournaments I’ve won look pretty surreal right now,” he said.
Jabeur had his own streak with 11 straight wins entering the final after his Madrid Open title last week, but the Tunisian’s clever shooting and spinning game was no match for Swiatek’s quick movement and accurate bottom shots.
“Iga is number 1 for a reason,” Jabeur said. “She’s really the leader here on the tour. I personally have a lot to learn from her.”
When a Jabeur backhand fell into the net to finish her off, Swiatek sank into the clay and covered her face with her hands as she leaned over.
The last player to win more consecutive games was Justine Henin, who won 32 in a row in 2007 and 2008. The longest streak of all time belongs to Martina Navratilova, who had a streak of 74 in 1984.
Swiatek’s last defeat took place in mid-February in Dubai against Jelena Ostapenko in a tiebreaker in the third set. He has won 42 of the last 43 sets he has played.
During the finals, a fan raised a sign that said, “Keep politics out of tennis,” an apparent reference to Wimbledon’s decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus because of the war in Ukraine.
Swiatek was playing with a ribbon glued to his hat with the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
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Djokovic shows that he is back in top form with the Italian Open title
Source link Djokovic shows that he is back in top form with the Italian Open title