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Djokovic praises Auger-Aliassime after their Rome tussle – “He’s a very complete player”

Novak Djokovic dished out some high praise to Felix Auger-Aliassime after capturing the pair’s first ever meeting.

Novak Djokovic Rome R3 2022 AI / Reuters / Panoramic

ATP Rome 1000 | Draws Schedule

Novak Djokovic raised his level when he needed to on Friday at the Foro Italico and sent Felix Auger-Aliassime packing out of the Rome draw. But the World No 1 came away impressed with several aspects of the Canadian’s game and admitted that the 21-year-old world No 9 forced him to raise his level.

“I thought it was a high-level tennis,” Djokovic told reporters after his 99th career win. “Difficult conditions playing at night, slower, the ball bounces lower.”

Djokovic on Auger-Aliassime’s serve – “He’s hitting spots in the box incredibly well”

The stats don’t necessarily tell a story of Djokovic being flummoxed by the Canadian’s serve. Djokovic broke serve five times and won 57 percent of his second-serve points, but he alluded to Auger-Aliassime’s ability to make things difficult for him after the match.

“He has the lethal serve honestly,” Djokovic said. “One thing is to practice and the other thing is to play against somebody in an official match. He’s hitting spots in the box incredibly well with his serve. It was not easy for me at all to return. He’s also returning well, moving well. He’s a very complete player.”

Of the ten players in the top 10, Auger-Aliassime currently ranks ninth in percentage of service games won, at 82 percent. The Canadian is winning 23 percent of his return games in 2022, eighth out of the top 10.

Djokovic was able to pull away by winning six of seven points in the tiebreak, after squandering a 5-2 lead in the second set. He would have liked to complete the match earlier, but credited Auger-Aliassime for forcing him to dig deep to close it out.

“He did ask me to raise the level,” Djokovic said. “I thought I could have finished the job earlier. I was a set and 5-2, match point, serving for the match. Credit to him for fighting back. Amazing atmosphere as well tonight.”

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