Final preview: Djokovic seeks record 38th ATP Masters 1000 title against Tsitsipas | TNZT


Novak Djokovic has had a lot at stake all week at Internazionali BNL d’Italia, and nothing will change on Sunday in the Roma final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The world No. 1 slipped to No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings earlier this week before his quarter-final victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime lifted him to first place ahead of Daniil Medvedev. Djokovic went on to beat Casper Ruud in the semi-finals to claim his 1,000th round-level win and secure the top seed at Roland Garros.

Playing in his fourth consecutive final in Rome and his 12th overall in the Italian capital, the Serb is now aiming for a record 38th ATP Masters 1000 title against Tsitsipas. The Greek is a candidate for his second title of 2022 after successfully defending his Monte Carlo crown in April.

In the doubles final, John Isner and Diego Schwartzman will face third seeds and defending champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, with the American-Argentinian duo looking to become champions in their first team event. Isner is looking for his third double Masters 100 title of the year with so many partners.

[1] Novak Djokovic (SER) against. [4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)

The last ATP Head2Head encounter between these two came in the Roland Garros final last year, when Djokovic fought back after two sets to claim his 20th Grand Slam title. Just before that, the Serb staged another comeback to defeat Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals in Rome. He leads the overall series 6-2, including a perfect 4-0 on clay.

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Djokovic is on the trail of his first title of 2022 as he starts to be in top form at the end of the European clay season. After an early exit in Monte Carlo, he reached the final in his native Belgrade and the semi-finals in Madrid. He didn’t drop a set this week in Rome, dominating Aslan Karatsev and Stan Wawrinka before winning closer but still comfortable contests against Felix Auger-Aliassime and Casper Ruud.

Tsitsipas survived a pair of match points against him to defeat Grigor Dimitrov in the first round in Rome and then scored a pair of wins over Karen Khachanov (third round) and Alexander Zverev (semi-finals). In between, he ended the run of local favorite Jannik Sinner in straight sets.

The Greek enters the final in scintillating form with a 14-2 record on the clay swing. He backed up his Monte Carlo title with a run to the Barcelona quarters and Madrid semi-finals and avenged a loss to Zverev in Madrid with his win on Saturday. His 31 tour-level wins during the season lead the TNZT.

Tsitsipas makes his first final in Rome and enters the title match with a 9-4 record at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

“It’s one of those tournaments that I think has the most history in the sport,” he said as he reached the final. “As you can see from the sides, one of the most beautiful stadiums. There is a lot of history playing out on these courts and you are very proud to have made your way here and to to have been able to take part in an event so rich in history.

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Djokovic faces a quick turnaround after his nightly victory over Ruud, which was followed by an on-court celebration for his 1,000 wins, complete with a themed cake. He will look to extend his perfect record to 4-0 against Tsitsipas in the final.

“Another final against him in one of the biggest tournaments we have in the world,” Djokovic announced in preview. “He’s definitely in good shape. In recent years he’s been [one of the] top two, three clay court players. In general, the top two, three in the world.

“But especially on clay, winning Monte Carlo, always reaching the final stages of the biggest events on clay. I can expect a big battle on the court, but I’m ready for it.”

The balance of power and glimpses of stealing and converting provide an interesting backdrop for Sunday’s game. The most notable stat from this week in Roma is Djokovic’s 42% steal rate, which describes how often the Serb wins points in defence. That could prove crucial in the final, with Tsitsipas ahead of the power balance battle between the two, playing 25% of his shots on offense this week. Both men are above average when it comes to how often they convert points from attacking positions.

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Player Balance of
Conversion Steal
Djokovic 23% 71% 42%
Tsitsipas 25% 68% 33%
Avg. 21% 65% 35%

[3] Nikola Mektic (CRO) / Mate Pavic (CRO) vs. John Isner (USA) / Diego Schwartzman (ARG)

The Croatian defending champions knocked out local favorites Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini in Saturday’s semi-final, their straight-set wins continuing their perfect progression this week in Rome. The third seeds won all eight sets played, being pushed to the tie-break only once, by the Italians.

Mektic and Pavic won nine titles last season in their first campaign as a team, including three at Masters 1000 level. They are in search of their first title in 2022 after losing two decisive matches in the finals in Dubai and Belgrade .

Isner teamed with Jack Sock to win Indian Wells and with Hubert Hurkacz for the Miami title before his run in Rome with Schwartzman. The unlikely duo, dubbed #Isnerman, combine the contrasting skills of the 6ft 10in American and the 5ft 7in Argentine. They survived three decisive matches to reach the final, including the semi-finals against Andrey Golubev and Maximo Gonzalez.


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