Novak Djokovic lifted his 6th title at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia after taking down Stefanos Tsitsipas following two very different sets. After a one-way-traffic first set that was over in the blink of an eye for Djokovic by 6-0, the second set was a battle, but the world number one upped his game when he needed it most to close it 7-6(5).
The Greek had managed to turn things around in the second set and got up of a break, when Djokovic fought back once again. Once in the tiebreak, ‘Nole’ immediately took the lead once again and even when the fourth seed closed the gap, he did not let go and closed at the first chance.
“He started amazing. He played great tennis”, admitted Tsitsipas who was almost a spectator in the first set: “he was really closing the gap in most of the shots. Behind every single ball. Incredible handling of every single ball, not giving away any unforced errors. (I was) Just trying to find solutions on the second set. Such a shame. I was serving for the second set. I think I had chances of even going a double break up. I also kind of felt like, you know, a little bit of extra energy that you need to make it, to finish the second set, it was not really there”.
It was an important week for Djokovic, who felt the need to prove himself the form was coming ahead of his first slam of the year: “I couldn’t ask for a better week really. Played a perfect set today. Didn’t drop a set the whole tournament. I trusted the process really when I started training on clay. I knew that even though I did not have tournaments prior to Monte-Carlo, I still felt rusty on the court. I knew I’m kind of player, particularly on clay, that needs more time, at least three, four weeks to get to the desired level. Historically that’s always been the case”.
With that victory and the performances that led to it, the world number one is feeling confident about his chances in Paris: “I go there with the highest ambitions, particularly of the way I played here. I really like my chances. Obviously the draw and everything, it’s not something that you can affect, but it’s going to also determine a little bit of my trajectory to the later stages of the event”.
In spite of the loss, Tsitsipas is also heading to Roland Garros as one of the top contenders to do well in Paris.
“Roland Garros is a marathon Grand Slam”, he explained: “Every Grand Slam is a marathon Grand Slam, but specifically Roland Garros. It really takes the most out of you spiritually and physically when you’re out on the court. Clay court has this ability to really squeeze every single part of you. You have to leave it, your all, out there. I’m ready to get a few days of rest and start practicing again to get into that Roland Garros mindset. I enjoy playing in this city. I really hope my tennis allows me to go deep this year”.
The Greek will want to try and avenge this loss in a few weeks and try and win his first slam, but the challengers will be many more for the title.