Rome | Djokovic sweeps up sixth title

The Rome Masters Final nearly became a mirror image of the disappointing and one-sided final played out last week in the Madrid title round following Novak Djokovic’s domination of Sefanos Tsitsipas in the first set.

The match could easily have gone to a third set, but I managed to find the right shots at the right time to come back into the match. (In) the tie-break I was maybe an inch better, but it was a tight, tight tie-break for both of us Novak Djokovic

The Serbian world No.1 completely overwhelmed his Greek challenger and required just 30-minutes to inflict a bagel on the hapless and increasingly frustrated Greek who was struggling to find any form to provide the packed Centre Court at the Foro Italico with a deserving final.

Tsitsipas even received a warning for racket abuse when he fell behind 3-0 with a double break. He won just seven points in that opener and knew when Djokovic pocketed it, that he had to raise his game if he was to have any chance of getting into the match and push for a third Masters title.

And to his credit he did and came close to forcing a decider before eventually conceding 6-0 7-6(5) after 96-minutes to the former Rome champion who picked up his sixth title in the Italian capital, his 38th at Masters level, his 88th overall in what was his 1001st match-win on Tour.

And he was very satisfied with his win declaring himself ready for Roland Garros where he will be chasing his fourth French Open title.

“I pleasantly surprised myself I can say. I had a clear game plan and I knew what to expect, so I knew what I had to do, but I did play a perfect first set,” a very satisfied Djokovic told the crowd.

“After that it was a little tighter. At this level, one or two points can turn a match and he was then back in the game at 4-1 up.

“The match could easily have gone to a third set, but I managed to find the right shots at the right time to come back into the match. (In) the tie-break I was maybe an inch better, but it was a tight, tight tie-break for both of us.”

For the 20-time Grand Slam title holder, this was his first tournament win of the season and couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I’ve been building my form for the last couple of weeks and like the previous years I knew that my best shape on the clay is usually coming around Rome time,” Djokovic added during his on-court interview.

“So it couldn’t be a better time coming into Roland Garros with a title.

“I usually peak here in Rome. I’ve had six titles but also had a lot of finals and semi-finals. Always a really good week of tennis with a lot of matches, and competitiveness on the court. Anything that I was really looking for here in Rome, I got.”

At the start of the Final, there were great expectations of a repeat of their epic five-set clash in last year’s French Open title round, won by Djokovic from two-sets to love down, so there was great disappointment when Tsitsipas, playing his first Rome Masters Final, failed to respond to Djokovic’s first-set onslaught considering the Greek had retained his Monte Carlo title and had made the Madrid semis the previous week and leads the men’s tour for wins this season.

But things changed early in the second. The Greek finally found his range forcing Djokovic’s level to drop.

Tsitsipas went into a 5-2 lead and should have served out to force a decider only to falter, which he also did in the tie-break.

“Right now Carlos Alcaraz or Novak Djokovic. They both play great, great tennis. I would put them as favourites,” Tsitsipas said when asked to pick out the winner of the next grand slam of the season.

“Right now I need to improve a few things in my game,” he added. “I don’t know if I’m going to get there, but I hope I do with my hard work by the time Roland Garros begins.

“I’d love myself to get around with these players and be there with them. But I will really need to put a bit more attention to detail in the next couple of weeks.”

The French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, stats on Sunday 22nd of May.


Champion Novak Djokovic and runner up Stefanos Tsitsipas pose after the final.

Silvia Lore/Getty Images




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