After winning his first championship of 2022 in Rome and putting his season’s rough start behind him, Novak Djokovic claimed he feels “fresh” and “sharp.” Will it be enough to propel him to a more significant victory in Paris?
Novak Djokovic’s 2022 campaign did not start well. He could not compete in the Australian Open or even remain in the country. He was unable to compete at Indian Wells or Miami. He wasn’t ready when he eventually got out on the Monte Carlo and Belgrade court. The 34-year-old, who had been sick shortly before the clay swing started. Was comfortably defeated in the third set in both locations.
But Djokovic is the master of rebounding from a seemingly terrible defeat. As a 20-time Grand Slam champion, he knows there’s always another major around the corner. One that will make the majority of us forget about the previous one.
Djokovic also understands how to prepare for a Slam and bring his game to where it has to be to survive two weeks of best-of-five-set matches after 18 years on the circuit. In Madrid, he started that process when he advanced to the semifinals and faced Carlos Alcaraz in three of the season’s most dramatic sets. He said that all symptoms of his last sickness vanished at that time.
“I know I’m the kind of player that needs more time, at least three, four weeks, to get to the appropriate level, especially on clay,” Djokovic said of his spring approach.
Djokovic won five straight sets of matches
“I generally hit my stride in Rome. It’s always a wonderful tennis week, with plenty of matches and fierce competition on the court. I found everything I was hoping for in Rome.”
At the Foro Italico, Djokovic won five straight sets of matches. In Felix Auger-Aliassime, Casper Ruud, and Stefanos Tsitsipas, he defeated three Top 10 players; the last of the three was runner-up to him at Roland Garros last year and will be a championship contender again this year. Djokovic won his 1,000th match, 87th championship, 38th Masters 1000, and, perhaps most importantly. His first event of 2022 along the road.
“It’s a comfort to some level,” he added, “because I needed to win a huge championship. With all that occurred at the start of the year.”
“As much as I’ve felt pressure in my life and profession. That kind of strain and everything I was experiencing in the first few months of the year was something on a whole new level. But I get the impression it is already behind me.”
If his stamina was still intact in the Alcaraz encounter in Madrid, his quarterfinal triumph against Auger-Aliassime in Rome demonstrated. The same about his shot-making flair and competitive brio. During two close sets in front of a loud night audience, Djokovic pulled out all the brakes, including the sliding gets, running passing shots, drops and lobs, fist-pumps, and primal roars. Whatever the 21-year-old Canadian was capable of, the Serb show that he could do it better.
Tsitsipas took the second set by a break and pushed Djokovic to dig in and battle.
Tsitsipas, who had been pushed to three sets in his quarterfinal and semifinal triumphs on Friday and Saturday. Came out pancake-flat in the final. Despite losing the first set 6-0, Tsitsipas took the second set by a break and pushed Djokovic to dig in and battle.
Djokovic had a breakpoint at 1-4 and saved it with a crosscourt backhand winner, one of his most fantastic shots of the day. He came back from a 2-5, 15-30 deficit to win with a forehand winner and an ace. Djokovic shut down in the second-set tiebreaker, taking no chances and sending looping balls to Tsitsipas’s weaker side, his backhand. It wasn’t the most exciting style of play, but success is a success. Tsitsipas committed three unforced mistakes with his backhand, including one on match point.
Djokovic stated, “I couldn’t ask for a better week.” “Today, I played a flawless set. Throughout the competition, I didn’t lose a single set. When I first began practicing on clay, I had complete faith in the method.”
Djokovic says he has “the greatest goals” in Paris, where he is the reigning champion.
“I believe I can go far based on how I’ve been feeling on and off the court in the previous several weeks.”
Grand Slams are “played differently” than Masters 1000 tournaments, according to Djokovic. This year, Roland Garros will provide him with the opportunity to start again and put what occurred in Australia behind him. That should be plenty of incentive for him.
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