Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl and Rafael Nadal. Here: could Novak Djokovic stay out of that club? The Serbian champion, with his victory in the semifinals in Rome, enters the narrow circle of a thousand victories in the major circuit with only 203 defeats to his credit.
Federer had entered with 199, Nadal with 227. Against Casper Ruud (who curiously he had only faced and beaten in Italy) it turned out to be a more complicated match, from a genuinely mental point of view, than the premise suggested after the initial 4-0.
A luxury version of the world number one, probably the most gallant since the resumption on clay, for a completely different player from the one seen in Monte-Carlo or Belgrade. The Serbian, who however missed one of the two breaks of the advantage and, with 5-4 30-30, definitively broke the balance of the challenge, almost seemed to conserve his physical energy for the final.
Djokovic has the extraordinary ability to map out Ruud's tactical plan in every way. The Norwegian then perks up from the byline at the start of the second and tries to hang on to the scoreboard with everything he has at his disposal.
A more "normal" and slightly more nervous Djokovic finally broke free in the seventh game and made no further changes to the script. Unlike. The final 6-4 and 6-3 is practically a logical consequence and answers quite well to all the hows and whys.
There is Tsitsipas waiting for him Djokovic thus reaches his twelfth final at the Foro Italico (five titles) and collides with Stefanos Tsitsipas. The talented Greek got rid of, not without difficulty, the 2017 champion, Alexander Zverev.
Nole started 2022 on a disappointing note
There are many tournaments on the ATP circuit where Novak Djokovic has tasted success time and again. The Italian Open is certainly one of the tournaments at the very top of that list.
"It is one of the biggest tournaments in the world, no doubt. Of course, every time I get the chance to fight for a trophy there, it is always a thrill. I always had a lot of support in Rome. Center Court - one of the most stunning centre courts in the tennis world," he added.
"That kind of surface where it's unpredictable. It's that kind of surface where if you drop your serve, it's not that big a deal as dropping your serve on a fast hard court. Clay is kind of a surface in which you have to earn every single point and every single victory," he explained.
"I had three or four three-set matches in the entire tournament. I remember the one against Kohlschreiber - claycourt specialist and a lot of top spins. Just grinding my way through those matches, very physical battles."