Djokovic beats Tsitsipas to claim sixth Italian Open title
Novak Djokovic won his sixth Italian Open title on Sunday after a straight-sets victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) in Rome, while Iga Swiatek won her fifth straight tournament by dispatching Ons Jabeur.
World number one Djokovic saw off underwhelming Monte Carlo Masters champion Tsitsipas to claim the last major tournament before Roland Garros gets underway later this month.
The 34-year-old won his first tournament of the season and confirmed his return to form after an opening few months of the season dominated by Covid-19 vaccination controversy.
“I’ve been building my form for the last couple of weeks and like the previous years I knew that my best shape on the clay is usually coming around Rome time,” Djokovic said on the court.
“So it couldn’t be a better time coming into Roland Garros with a title.”
Sunday’s clash was a rematch of the pair’s final at last year’s French Open final but had little of the drama of that five-set thriller won by the Serb in Paris.
Djokovic made surprisingly short work of Greece’s Tsitsipas, who had also reached the semi-finals of last week’s tournament in Madrid and still leads the men’s tour for wins this season.
Ranked fifth in the world, Tsitsipas was taken apart in the first set and looked oddly reluctant to take on Djokovic, but put up more of a fight in the second right until he threw away the set after serving for the match, succumbing in the tie-break without much resistance.
An emotional Djokovic then spoke to the crowd in Italian, telling them that they were the reason he had such a good record there and revealing his son Stefan was playing in his first ever tennis tournament.
“It’s a very special day obviously. I never forced him to play tennis, it was fully his decision that he wanted to play tournaments,” added Djokovic.
“He’s playing a club tournament, just a small one but it’s very meaningful for him and for me.”
– Tearful Swiatek triumphs –
Iga Swiatek said she was going to treat Roland Garros as “any other tournament” after beating Jabeur 6-2, 6-2 to retain the women’s title.
World number one Swiatek dropped to her knees in tears of joy after winning her 28th match in a row, and will be red-hot favourite in Paris.
“I’m going to treat it as any other tournament, I think it’s going to be fine and I’m going to be able to keep it that way,” said Swiatek.
“I already know that I did some great stuff this season, so I feel like I can just play freely and not think I have to win.”
The 20-year-old Pole has dropped just one set in her last 20 matches and calmly dealt with Jabeur in a largely one-sided final in Rome.
Tunisia’s Jabeur had made history last week after becoming the first Arab or African woman to win a WTA 1000 title but could not extend a career-best 11-match winning streak against her relentless opponent.
Jabeur had come into her first Rome final on a roasting Foro Italico centre court on the back of two thrilling comeback wins over Daria Kasatkina and Maria Sakkari.
And another unlikely comeback bid looked to be on when, a set down, she had three break points in game seven of the second set to take it to 4-3, only to lose the game after wasting another break chance at deuce.
“When she doubled faulted at deuce I was like ‘why didn’t she do that a point or two points before?’,” said Jabeur.
“I did everything I can, I hit every corner of the court.”
Jabeur has moved up one place in the world ranking to sixth after reaching her second straight final and remains a force for the French Open.