Novak Djokovic on top in time for the French Open: The role of the nominee in Paris is transforming

“Stand up for the Champion” reverberated at Foro Italico as Novak Djokovic raised the trophy to the skies above the Eternal City for the sixth time in his career. The victory anthem of Italian musician Patrizio Boan was apparently well known to the world number one. After kissing the cup, he climbed into the microphone – and joined the chorus.

But the “champion” in Rome on Sunday afternoon was none other than Djokovic himself: The 34-year-old Serbian had previously beaten Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0, 7-5 (7-6) in the clay-court final of the Masters and celebrated his eighth Masters title. And the thirty he got – in the Italian capital of all places.

“It’s always special to play here,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion said in a perfect Italian after the match on the central court. Thanking Tifusi for their “support and energy,” Djokovic said, “It’s a place that has always given me confidence. I feel at home, playing in this place and in this country.”

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Just in time for the task of defending the title, Djokovic was on his way: a week before the French Open kicks off (from May 22 to June 5 live on TV at Eurosport and at Eurosport on Joyn+) Celebrate his first championship win of the calendar year. The Roland Garros winner made a fantastic comeback after a difficult start to the season.

Novak Djokovic

Image source: Getty Images

Spaniards in the public eye

Because after entering Australia, the sporting spotlight gradually moved away from Djokovic. When Rafael Nadal celebrated his 21st Grand Slam title in Melbourne, he sat in front of the TV due to his vaccination status. Likewise, when Carlos Alcaraz jumped to the top of the world in the semi-finals at Indian Wells and later in Miami with his first Masters title.

On the other hand, Belgrade in Monaco failed in its opening match against Alejandro Davidovic Fokina (3:6, 7:6, 1:6), and lost the final in his hometown to Andrei Rublev (2:6, 7:6, 0:6). ) was defeated by 19-year-old shooter Alcaraz of Spain in the semi-finals in Madrid last week (7:6, 5:7, 6:7).

A day later, showing strength in the final against Alexander Zverev, Alcaraz in the Spanish capital also made himself “one of the favorites” to beat Djokovic in Paris. “So far this year he is – without a doubt – the best player in the world with the results he got,” said the Serbian. As the Olympic champion said after bankruptcy in the final: “You are currently the best player in the world!”
And after starting his season record 20-game winning streak prior to the show’s championship (13 French Open titles), Nadal inevitably slipped into the role of favorites. Meanwhile, Djokovic appeared to be playing the role of favorite in regards to Roland Garros. Also because, after the tournament in Belgrade, he reported an illness affecting his metabolism. But suddenly the circle of favorites turned 180 degrees.

Final highlights: Djokovic misses Tsitsipas with bread in the first set

Djokovic defeats Roma again

First, Nadal retired in Madrid due to another foot injury, then Alcaraz also canceled his start in Italy due to foot problems.

And Djokovic? Stormed back to Olympus tennis in Rome. Serbs sweep Arslan Karatsev (6:3, 6:2), Stan Vavrinka (6:2, 6:2), Felix Auger-Aliassime (7:5, 7:6) on his way to his sixth success in the Eternal City, Casper Rudd (6:4, 6:3) and Tsitsipas (6:0, 7:6) did not lose a set throughout the tournament. In the semi-finals, he also broke the sound barrier for a thousand wins on the ATP Tour – as the fifth player in history.

Tsitsipas, recently described by Alexander Zverev as “the best clay court player in the world,” took the humiliation of baking in the first set and then bowed to Djokovic: “I hope I can reach your level one day.”

“I’ve improved in the past few weeks,” Djokovic said in an interview on the court after the final. “I knew I usually had my best levels on the mud around Rome,” he explained.

Novak Djokovic

Image source: Getty Images

pendulum swings

Perfect tournament planning: Seven days before kick-off in Paris, the world number one flexes his muscles.

Eurosport expert Mats Wellander was one of the few to put Djokovic on his roster in March. “He was able to put his training plan together perfectly for fitness,” explained the 57-year-old, adding him to the top-favorite circle. But according to Wellander, “He will need a certain amount of self-confidence in the lead up to the French Open.”

He showed his physique during the tournament in Rome – the self-confidence that feeds it afterwards: “I played great two days ago,” adding regarding the final against the 23-year-old Greek: “Today I played the perfect first set.”

For a long time, the momentum was in favor of the Spaniards. A week before his third mission title in the City of Love, Djokovic is already at his best. “It couldn’t be better than going to Roland Garros with a title behind you,” Djokovic said after the final. On Sunday, the favorite pendulum swings. From Spain to Serbia.

Djokovic goes to Paris as a favourite. It is quite possible that on the last day in three weeks at Stade Philippe Chatrier – as in Italy – the French spectators will also wake up. Defend the hero.

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