Novak Djokovic sees off Monte Carlo Masters champion Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim the last major tournament before French Open, while Iga Swiatek beats Ons Jabeur to retain the women's title.
World number one Novak Djokovic has raised his first trophy of the year at the Italian Open and showed that he’s back in top form exactly a week before the French Open starts.
After missing a large portion of the season because he wasn’t vaccinated against the coronavirus, the top-ranked Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0, 7-6 (5) for his sixth Rome title on Sunday.
“I’ve been building my form the last few weeks,” Djokovic said. “It couldn’t be better timing coming into Roland Garros." And he added later: “Perfect scenario for me.”
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.
Djokovic didn’t drop a set all week, having won his 1,000th career match over Casper Ruud in the semifinals. He produced 24 winners to Tsitsipas’ eight and had only 14 unforced errors to Tsitsipas' 20.
Djokovic, who was deported because of his unvaccinated status ahead of the Australian Open, hadn’t won a tournament since raising the Paris Masters trophy in November.
'A lot of confidence'
“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. “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 (pm) when we started this match, my son Stefan, who is seven 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.
Swiatek was a surprise champion at the French Open in 2020 when she was ranked No. 54.
Now the 20-year-old Polish player is the favourite to add a second title at Roland Garros when the year’s second Grand Slam starts next Sunday.
“I already know that I did some great stuff this season, so I feel like I can just play freely,” world number one Swiatek said.
“For sure the expectations around are higher, but I never had a problem to cut it off and not to think about it. Also I’m gaining experience at that.”