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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday May 14, 2022

Novak Djokovic’s 2022 is heating up just in time to make him a lead contender for a 21st major title at Roland-Garros. But first, a brief pause to celebrate an incredible, historic achievement.

Tennis Express

The World No.1 took down Norway’s Casper Ruud, 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday at Rome, claiming his 1,000th ATP win to join legends Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl and Rafael Nadal on the lofty list of icons to have achieved the feat.

“I was seeing Roger and Rafa celebrate those milestones in the last couple of years,” Djokovic said. “I was looking forward to get to that 1,000 myself – I’m really blessed and privileged to have that many victories on the tour. It’s been a long time since I’ve played and won my first match on the tour. Hopefully I can keep going and many more victories to come.”

Djokovic will now look forward to his next achievement – facing Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final on Sunday. The Serb will bid for a record 38th Masters 1000 title and his sixth at Rome, where he is 63-10 lifetime.

Djokovic lost two of his first three clashes with Tsitsipas but has taken their last five, and is 4-0 against the fifth-ranked Greek on clay.

But he knows Sunday will be a difficult test as he seeks to dial in his best form ahead of Roland-Garros.

“Another final against him in one of the biggest tournaments we have in the world,” he said. “He’s definitely in form, in the last few years he’s been top two, three in general in the world, but especially on clay court. I can expect a big battle on the court but I’m ready for it.”

Djokovic showed solid form on Saturday evening, and managed to ease past Ruud without too many complications on Saturday night in Rome.

“I thought I played very well,” Djokovic said. “I started fantastic – 4-love – then I did slow down a bit, I did drop my level and I wasn’t feeling that great on the court for about 15, 20 minutes. He used that and he managed to get himself back in the first set. It was important to close it out in the tenth game to win the first set.”

"I felt I played really well in the first four games and the last four games of the match and hopefully I can take that level into tomorrow’s final.”

Djokovic is bidding for his 87th career title, and his first of 2022. Tsitsipas, who defeated Alexander Zverev in three sets on Saturday, is bidding for his second title of the season, and ninth overall.


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