Dominant Djokovic sinks Tsitsipas to claim sixth Italian Open title
Novak Djokovic claimed his sixth Italian Open crown after defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0 7-6(5) in the final.
The most successful player in ATP 1000 Masters history, Djokovic won a record-extending 38th title in dominant fashion in Rome on Sunday.
It has been a memorable week for the Serb, who returned to world number one and became only the fifth player in history to record 1,000 match wins during his semi-final victory over Casper Ruud.
And he capped it off in the grand manner; dominating the first set before overturning 4-1 and 5-2 deficits in the second and sealing victory in the tie-break.
Djokovic becomes the oldest men’s singles champion in Rome during the Open Era at 34 years, 11 months and 23 days; eclipsing Rafael Nadal’s record by just 10 days.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“The tie-break, I was maybe an inch better, but it was a tight tie-break for both of us.”
Runner-up in Belgrade and a semi-finalist in Madrid last week, Djokovic was targeting his first silverware of the 2022 season.
The top seed had breezed through to his record-equalling 12th final in the Italian capital (level with Nadal) – and fourth in succession – without dropping a single set.
Djokovic had also won all of his four previous clay-court encounters with Tsitsipas; overturning a two-set deficit in last year’s French Open final.
He continued in a dominant fashion; breaking his opponent three times as he ran away with the opening set.
Boasting an impressive 14-2 record on clay in 2022, Tsitsipas was looking to build on his tally of 31 match wins – the best in the ATP for the year.
The world number five produced a determined response in the second set to move to the brink of forcing a decider at 5-2 up.
But Djokovic dug deep by winning four of the net five games to set up a tie-break, which he clinched for an 87th tour-level title.
Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas go head to head once more in the pick of the matches on semi-final Saturday at the Italian Open.
It promises to be an exciting climax in the men’s draw with four of the top five seeds remaining.
For the third time in the space of a month, Zverev and Tsitsipas collide in an ATP 1000 semi-final.
The previous two encounters were shared with Tsitsipas prevailing on the way to winning in Monte Carlo, while Zverev exacted his revenge in Madrid last week.
We can expect another mouth-watering showdown between players who boast a combined five Masters titles on clay.
Although Tsitsipas, who has the most wins on the ATP this year (30), leads the head-to-head 7-4 and has won three of their four clashes on surface.
Meanwhile, 37-time Masters champion Novak Djokovic is aiming to become only the fifth player in ATP history to record 1,000 match wins when he takes on Casper Ruud.
A five-time winner in Rome, this is Djokovic’s ninth successive semi-final in the Italian capital, while fifth seed Ruud is set for his fourth Masters semi on clay.
Only the third player to win 20+ straight WTA 1000 matches (26), the red-hot Iga Swiatek continues her quest for a fifth title of 2022 against Aryna Sabalenka.
The reigning champion is also the second-youngest player to reach four WTA 1000 semi-finals in a single season – after Caroline Wozniacki in 2010.
Meanwhile, Sabalenka has enjoyed a timely upturn in fortunes. The third seed had never previous progressed beyond round three in Rome, while she returned to the Italian capital off the back of a first-round exit in Madrid last week.
But she has won each of her last three semi-finals on clay, which will stand her in good stead as she looks to end Swiatek’s relentless streak.
Ons Jabeur – champion in Madrid – is seeking a record-extending 17th victory on clay this season, and 11th on the spin.
Standing in her way is world number 23 Daria Kasatkina, who defeated second seed Paula Badosa on the way to reaching her first semi-final in Rome.
Play gets underway at 11am BST on Saturday with all matches contested over the best of three sets in Rome.
Novak Djokovic racked up his 999th career match win as he defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets to reach the Italian Open semi-finals on Friday.
A five-time winner in Rome, Djokovic also secured his return to the top of the ATP rankings by advancing to the last four of this event for a ninth successive year.
The Serbian is the most successful player in the ATP Masters 1000 series – amassing 37 titles in his career – and is now just two wins away from capturing another after digging deep to see off Auger-Aliassime.
In his first meeting with the Canadian, Djokovic broke in game eight for the opportunity to serve out for the opening set.
Auger-Aliassime responded immediately to put it back on serve, but the top seed broke to 15 at 6-5 to draw first blood.
Once again, the 20-time major winner took control of proceedings in the second set; a delicious backhand lob giving him another break and a 4-2 lead.
Nevertheless, the eighth seed dug deep to rescue match point in his next service game, before breaking back as the set went to a tie-break.
Although, it was very one-sided from there; Djokovic dominating to advance to the last four.
Next up for him is Casper Ruud after the fifth seed beat Denis Shapovalov 7-6(7) 7-5.
The Buenos Aires champion, who was also a runner-up in Miami, is through to his second semi-final in Rome, having progressed to the same stage two years ago.
The same can be said for Stefanos Tsitsipas, who chalked up his 30th victory of the season as he saw off home favourite Jannik Sinner 7-6(5) 6-2.
Champion in Monte Carlo, the fourth seed hit 10 aces on the way to setting up a showdown with Alexander Zverev.
The 2017 winner – and Madrid Open finalist – was a 7-5 6-2 victor over Cristian Garin.
Over in the Ladies’ draw, reigning champion Iga Swiatek continued her rich vein of form as she put former US Open winner Bianca Andreescu to the sword 7-6(2) 6-0.
The world number one registered her 26th successive victory of a remarkable season, in which she has already triumphed in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami and Stuttgart.
The Pole will look to continue that streak against four-time Masters champion Aryna Sabalenka, who came from behind to beat Amanda Anisimova 4-6 6-3 6-2.
Madrid Open champion Ons Jabeur also maintained her impressive momentum with a wonderful turnaround to Maria Sakkari 1-6 7-5 6-1.
The ninth seed lost nine of the opening 10 games, but hit back with seven of the next nine to force a deciding set.
Sakkari had won each of her eight previous quarter-finals, but was completely powerless as Jabeur racked up her 16th win on clay this season – more than any other player.
Her reward is a clash with Daria Kasatkina, who advanced to the semi-finals after opponent Jil Teichmann retired injured when trailing 6-4 3-2.
A star-studded field assembles for the 2021 ATP Rome Masters, and a live stream is available for multiple matches.
Also known as the Italian Open, the 2021 ATP Rome event features 16 seeded players up against a series of qualifiers and wildcards as they battle it out from May 8-16.
The clay court event is held at the Foro Italico in Rome and is classified as an ATP Masters 1000 event with a total prize fund of €2,563,710.
Novak Djokovic is the defending champion after he defeated Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3 in last year’s final.
It was Djokovic’s fifth Rome Masters title and 36th ATP Masters 1000 title in total, breaking the previous record of 35 that he and Rafael Nadal had shared.
Nadal, the number two seed, has won this title on a record nine occasions since 2005, while 2017 champion Alexander Zverev comes into this year’s event off the back of his Madrid Open triumph last weekend.
Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem are seeded three and four respectively, while Madrid Open runner-up Matteo Berrettini, Grigor Dimitrov and 2020 finalist Schwartzman are also in action.
Matches from multiple courts are available to watch live on desktop, mobile or tablet devices in the UK and various other regions worldwide.
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