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Djokovic stops Tsitsipas for sixth Rome title

World No 1 Novak Djokovic completed his Rome title without dropping a set, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas for the title.

Novak Djokovic 2022 Rome Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 15, 2022 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after winning the final against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas || 230760_0024

Novak Djokovic will head to Roland-Garros with momentum on high. The world No 1 captured his sixth Rome title on Sunday, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0, 7-6(5) for his record 38th Masters 1000 title and 87th overall, solidifying his status as one of the top contenders for the title in Paris.

The French Open begins next week, and Djokovic will be the top seed.

“I have been building my form in the last couple of weeks,” Djokovic said on court. “Like the previous years I knew that my best shape on the clay is usually coming around Rome, so there couldn’t be a better time, obviously, coming into Roland-Garros with the title at this wonderful tournament.”

Djokovic claims his first title of the season after myriad difficulties that slowed his progress from the start of the year. Despite barely competing until April, the Serb has managed to find his form on the clay after appearances at Monte-Carlo, Belgrade, Madrid and Rome, where he went 10-3 overall.

Not only did Djokovic lock down his 1000th ATP victory on Saturday with his victory over Casper Ruud in the semis, he finished his week by defeating Tsitsipas, his opponent in last year’s Roland-Garros final – the ultimate positive vibration for a player that is seeking momentum with the French Open less than a week away.

A fast start, and a clutch finish

Djokovic, who will turn 35 on May 22, caught Tsitsipas off guard at the start, racing off to a six-love set against the Greek to take control.

“I pleasantly surprised myself,” Djokovic said on court after the final. “I did play a perfect set, no doubt about it.”

Tsitsipas hit back in the second set, taking the early break, and even had a break point for a 5-1 double-break lead. But the 23-year-old Greek could not capitalize.

“After that it was a little bit tight in the second for me,” Djokovic said. “At this level one or two points can turn a match around. He was back in the game, 4-1, 30-40, match could have easily gone in the third set but I somehow managed to find the right shots at the right time.

In the tiebreak it was Djokovic who held firm when it mattered most.

“In the tiebreak I was just an inch better, maybe calmer, but it was a tight tiebreak for both of us.”

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 15, 2022 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning the final against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas || 230760_0018

Tsitsipas to Djokovic – I hope I can get to your level one day

Tsitsipas took the loss in stride and shared kind words for Djokovic after the final.

“I try my best every single day,” he said. “I really hope I can get to your level one day – it’s very inspiring. I think we practiced for the first time a few years ago in France, for me it was great sharing the court with you. I’m happy that I was able to enjoy this afternoon in front of such an amazing crowd, here in Rome in one of the most glamorous and spectacular centre courts that I’ve been able to play on. ”

Djokovic, who improved to 7-2 over Tsitsipas with six consecutive wins, returned the favour:

“Tough luck today, I know you wanted to win the title, and that’s why you are one of the best players in the world, because you always want to win the title,” he told the Greek. “You have a lot to be very proud of in your career and I’m sure that you’ll be carrying many trophies here in Rome and around the world in the future days to come. You are one of the best leaders the sport can have.”

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