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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday May 15, 2022

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday May 15, 2022

Novak Djokovic is well and truly back on track. In a week that saw the World No.1 celebrate his 1000th ATP victory, the Serb conquered all comers as he returned to the winner’s circle at the Foro Italico for a sixth time.

Tennis Express

Djokovic fought past Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0, 7-6(5) to claim his 87th career title and his record 38th at the Masters 1000 level on Sunday in Rome, at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

It’s a sign that the 20-time major champion is right where he wants to be as he prepares his Roland-Garros title defense. After hardly playing through the first three months of the season due to his controversial decision to remain unvaccinated, Djokovic has tested himself at four events on the clay this spring, in Monte-Carlo, Belgrade, Madrid and Rome.

He achieved mixed results in the first three, but things came together this week at Rome. It’s not the first time that Djokovic has hit his stride on the red clay of one of his favorite cities. Playing as smoothly as he speaks the Italian language, Djokovic did not drop a set all week, and when he was tested by Tsitsipas in the second set of Sunday’s final, he passed with flying colors.

“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.”

After handing the Greek a bagel in the opening set, which Djokovic deemed “perfect,” the Serb had to scrap to get through the second set. Tsitsipas had a break point for a 5-1 lead but Djokovic didn’t allow it. Soon he was level at 5-all.

“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 to earn his first title of 2022.

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


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