Dominant Djokovic sinks Tsitsipas to claim sixth Italian Open title

Jonathan Davies in ATP Rome 15 May 2022
Djokovic landed his sixth Italian Open crown on Sunday (Antonietta Baldassarre / Insidefoto)

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.