Novak Djokovic wins the Italian Open

 

Just in time.

Novak Djokovic clinched his first title of the year at the Italian Open on Sunday and showed that he is in prime form with a week to go before the start of the French Open.

After missing a long stretch of the season for not having been vaccinated against the coronavirus, the world number one defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0, 7-6 (5) to win his sixth title in Rome.

The Serbian star did not drop a single set all week.

Earlier on the red clay of the Foro Italico, Iga Swiatek defended the women’s title by dispatching Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-2 to extend her winning streak to 28.

Djokovic took barely half an hour to settle the first set against a Tsitsipas who became so frustrated that he slammed his racket into his bag during a change of ends and broke it.

After trailing in the second set, Djokovic reacted when Tsitsipas served for the set up 5-3.

First, Djokovic deposited a right cross at the line and then made his Greek rival run from one side to the other until he risked a dropshot that ended in the net. Djokovic celebrated by clenching his fist with the crowd chanting his nickname: “NO-LE, NO-LE!”

When a Tsitsipas backhand went wide on the first match point, Djokovic raised his arms and beamed.

Djokovic, who was deported for failing to get vaccinated on the eve of the Australian Open, had not won the title since the Paris Masters in November.

The 20-major champion reached the final at the Serbian Open last month. He also lost to Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals of the Madrid Open last week.

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Swiatek will appear at Roland Garros in the midst of an imperial streak.

The Pole surprised when she was proclaimed champion of the French Open when she was number 54 in the ranking. Now, the world number one is the favorite to win a second title at Roland Garros when the second Grand Slam of the season gets underway next Sunday.

Swiatek, 20, has won five straight titles during his triumphant march.

Jabeur was also on a winning streak, 11 in a row, including his triumph at the Madrid Open last week. But the Tunisian’s style of play, with her dropshots and curling shots, did not tickle Swiatek’s agility and accuracy.

The last player to have had such a long winning streak was Serena Williams, who had 34 wins at the end of 2013. The longest streak in history belongs to Martina Navratilova, who had 74 wins in 1984.

 

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