Just in time, Novak Djokovic has raised his first trophy of the year at the Italian Open – exactly a week before the French Open starts.
After missing a large portion of the season because he wasn’t vaccinated against the coronavirus, the top-ranked Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0 7-6 (7-5) for his sixth Rome title.
“I’ve been building my form the last few weeks,” Djokovic said.
Watch the latest sport on Channel 7 or stream for free on 7plus >>
“It couldn’t be better timing coming into Roland Garros. Perfect scenario for me.”
Djokovic didn’t drop a set all week, having won his 1000th career match over Casper Ruud in the semi-finals.
Djokovic, who was deported because of his unvaccinated status ahead of the Australian Open, hadn’t won a tournament since the Paris Masters in November.
“This year it was a particular situation. With everything that happened in Australia, it took some time,” Djokovic said.
“I found my best shape here. I’m going to Paris with a lot of confidence.”
“This court has always been very, very special,” he said, after his 12th final at the Foro Italico.
“It’s given me joy when I really needed positive sensations. Whenever my form was a bit down I’ve found energy in this city.”
Djokovic needed only a half hour to win the opening set, during which Tsitsipas got so frustrated at one point that he banged his racquet against his bag during a changeover and mangled the frame.
After falling behind early in the second set, Djokovic stepped up his game when Tsitsipas served for the set at 5-3.
First, he ripped a forehand cross-court return winner that landed on the line, then on the next point he pushed Tsitsipas from corner to corner before the fifth-ranked Greek player resorted to a drop shot attempt that landed in the net.
Djokovic celebrated with a series of fist pumps as the crowd chanted his nickname, “No-le … No-le!”.
When a backhand from Tsitsipas sailed wide on the first match point, Djokovic simply raised his arms and smiled.
During the trophy ceremony, he then made a special dedication: “Today at four (PM) when we started this match, my son Stefan, who is seven years old, was playing his first tennis match. I hope he won. This is for him!”
Djokovic produced 24 winners to Tsitsipas’ eight and had only 14 unforced errors to Tsitsipas’ 20.