Stefanos Tsitsipas lost 6-0, 7-6 (5) to Novak Djokovic at the Italian Open final in Rome Sunday.
It was Djokovic’s first victory since last November’s Paris Masters and his sixth Rome title.
Djokovic missed a large portion of the season because he wasn’t vaccinated against the coronavirus. He was deported from Australia ahead of the Australian Open because of his un-vaccinated status.
The first set was disastrous for Tsitsipas, who had his service broken three times by Djokovic and lost it in only a half hour. Tsitsipas got so frustrated at one point that he banged his racket against his bag during a changeover and mangled the frame.
Tsitsipas was better in the second set, breaking Djokovic’s serve in the fourth game and then holding his own for a 4-1 lead. But Djokovic stepped up his game when Tsitsipas served for the set at 5-3.
First, the Serb ripped a forehand cross-court return winner that landed on the line, then on the next point he pushed Tsitsipas from corner to corner before the fifth-ranked Greek player resorted to a drop shot attempt that landed in the net. Djokovic celebrated with a series of fist pumps as the crowd chanted his nickname: “NO-LE, NO-LE.”
When a backhand from Tsitsipas sailed wide on the first match point, Djokovic simply raised his arms and smiled.
In the tie-break, Djokovic led 5-2, with Tsitsipas coming back to level at 5-5. Djokovic won the tie-break, 7-5, and the match, when a Tsitsipas backhand sailed wide.
“I’ve been building my form the last few weeks,” Djokovic said. “It couldn’t be better timing coming into Roland Garros,” which startsd in a week’s time.
“Perfect scenario for me,” Djokovic added later.
Djokovic didn’t drop a set all week, having won his 1,000th career match over Casper Ruud in the semifinals.
“This year it was a particular situation. With everything that happened in Australia, it took some time,” Djokovic said. “I found my best shape here. I’m going to Paris with a lot of confidence.”
It was Djokovic’s 12th final at the Foro Italico.
“This court has always been very, very special,” he said. “It’s given me joy when I really needed positive sensations. Whenever my form was a bit down I’ve found energy in this city.”
During the trophy ceremony, Djokovic made a special dedication: “Today at 4 (p.m.) when we started this match, my son Stefan, who is 7 years old, was playing his first tennis match. I hope he won. This is for him.”
The 20-time Grand Slam champion reached the final of his home Serbia Open last month. He was beaten by 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid Open semifinals last week.
Djokovic produced 24 winners to Tsitsipas’ eight and had only 14 unforced errors to Tsitsipas’ 20.
Earlier on the red clay, Iga Swiatek defended the women’s title by overwhelming Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-2 to extend her winning streak to 28 matches.