Novak Djokovic out in Rome, but he is the man to beat in Paris

The performances shown so far in the clay swing should not deceive

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Novak Djokovic out in Rome, but he is the man to beat in Paris

Novak Djokovic's title defense in Rome ends in the quarterfinals. The Serbian tennis player, still number one in the world for a few days, was defeated by Holger Rune in two sets: 6-2 4-6 6-2 in favor of the Dane, who in his first appearance in Rome still amazes, as in the final Paris-Bercy.

Djokovic isn't in good shape, but don't be mislead by that. After not being able to play Indian Wells and Miami, the Serb arrived on the clay-season in non-optimal conditions, mainly due to a physical problem that limited his performances.

However it should be stressed that Djokovic will be the man to beat at the Roland Garros. Too expert on clay and best of three sets. Nole has probably never forced himself in recent weeks, preserving his physical energies precisely in view of the Parisian fortnights.

And the performances shown so far in the clay swing should not deceive. In Paris the Serbian will show another version of himself. And it will be interesting to see how the youngsters will deal with his experience in a tournament that will last fifteen days and will be played in the best of 5 sets.

And it will be good to see if Rafael Nadal will also be able to be in Paris. Two old lions, perhaps believed to be exhausted, but who could easily rewrite the history of tennis. Once again.

Djokovic's defeat against Rune in Rome

The first set is an indicator of a Djokovic who is not in the best physical condition.

In the previous rounds he managed to dominate the opponents and some physical ailments, but this time it seems that it is a factor that affects him. We see a dull Djokovic, exhausted, at times without particular energy, who not by chance calls his physio in the set.

Rune, who on the other hand arrived in Rome with excellent premises, takes advantage of it in two servings. The first break comes at 15 in the first innings, the second break comes in the fifth, this time at 30. The first set is an easily archived practice for Rune, who takes advantage more of the uncertain conditions of the opponent than of the solidity of his game.

As proof of this, the percentage of primes: 30%, against one of the best return players on the circuit. The second set seems like another story. Not at the beginning, where the Serbian finds his backhand, in particular the one down the line, while he doesn't find confidence with his forehand.

Everything is in the hands of Rune, who throws everything away. At 2-2, 40 all, the chair umpire is called in but the Dane thinks it is out. A long discussion ensues, where the only one to benefit is the Grand Slam champion, who easily takes the break after the discussion.

The young tennis player's show starts from that moment: protest, medical time out. Things that seem to have helped on the pitch: service at zero and counter break at 15. At 5-4, 0-30 for Rune the rain interrupts everything and sends the players to the locker room.

After an hour's stop, it's two symphony points from the Serbian, who wins the second set. In the third set the ghosts of Djokovic from the first set return: still dull, unable to respond to the variations of his rival, who never gives the same ball to the Serbian.

So the Serbian for the first two rounds of service in the third set, going down 3-0. The Serbian serves as quickly as few other times in his career, he gives himself games of total enthusiasm, where he pushes with full arm; the disadvantage is too much even for a champion like the Serbian, who surrenders an excellent Rune in the eighth game.

The winner of this match awaits the winner between Casper Ruud and Francisco Cerundolo: neither of the two players, both with extreme confidence with clay, is playing for a place in the semifinal against Rune

Novak Djokovic