Andrew Dampf, The Associated Press
ROME – Novak Djokovic lifted his first trophy at the Italian Open on Sunday and showed he is back at his peak just a week before the start of the French Open.
After missing much of the season due to his coronavirus vaccination, Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0, 7-6 (5) in the final.
Djokovic, who has not ceded a set this week, meanwhile took home his sixth career title on Romanian clay.
Djokovic admitted: “I’ve been working on my physical condition in recent weeks. It couldn’t be the best time to deal with the French Open.
“It’s a perfect scenario,” he added, confident in himself.
On the women’s front, she crushed Iga Swiatek Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-2 to successfully defend her Italian Open title, extending her winning streak to 28.
It took Djokovic only half an hour to claim the first set, with Tsitsipas reaching such a level of frustration that he smashed his racket into his bag while changing limbs.
Fast behind in the second set, the Serb stepped out of the game as he sent his opponent into the set at 5-3.
The Joker first fired a winning cross pass with a forehand that landed on the touchline, then on the next point he forced the world’s fifth Greek racket to go from one end to the other. The other side of the field by allowing him to attempt a shot that ended in the net. Djokovic celebrated by raising his fist several times to the sky, to the cheers of the audience who chanted: “No, no, no!”
Finally, when Tsitsipas’ backhand misses the world’s first match point, Djokovic raised his arms and smiled at the crowd.
Djokovic, who was expelled from Australia for being vaccinated shortly before the Australian Open kicks off, has not won a trophy since his victory at the Paris Masters in November 2021.
The 20-times Grand Slam champion reached the final of the Serbia Open, ahead of his family last month. He also lost to Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals of the Madrid Open last week.
“This year has been special. With everything that happened in Australia, Djokovic said, it took a long time. But I’m back in good shape. I’m excited for Paris.”
This was Serbia’s 12th final in the “Foro Italico”.
“This land has always been very, very special, recognizable to the main interested party. It gives me so much joy, especially when I need positive vibes. Every time I have a little apartment, this town has found a way to revitalize me.”
For her part, Swiatek surprised everyone by winning the title at Roland-Garros in 2020, when she was 54th in the world. The 20-year-old Pole will be the favorite and will be seeking a second career title on Parisian clay from next Sunday.
“I’m aware of what I’ve already accomplished this season, so I feel like I can play without pressure,” Swiatek said. Expectations would obviously be higher, but I had no trouble detaching myself from it and not worrying about it. Plus, I get experience this way.”
Swiatek has won five consecutive titles since the start of his winning streak.
“It’s unbelievable now, with all these victories,” she admitted.
Jaber herself had 11 wins in a row after winning last week’s Madrid Open. The Tunisian’s repertoire of drop shots and dribbling on the ball was not on par with Swiatek, the mobile player with unrivaled accuracy in forehands.
“I did everything so that you would have to get to the corners of the court,” Jaber said. “But she was ready for that.”
The last player to win consecutive matches was Belgian Justine Henin with 32 matches between 2007 and 2008. The record streak belongs to Martina Navratilova who won 74 matches in a row in 1984.
In the women’s doubles, Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski and her Mexican partner Juliana Olmos, the second seed in the tournament, lost 1-6, 6-4, 10-7 to Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Veronika Kudermetova in the final.
With the Canadian press