'Novak Djokovic played on a high level in Rome,' says fellow top-tier player

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'Novak Djokovic played on a high level in Rome,' says fellow top-tier player

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic has played only five tournaments and 16 encounters in 2022. After being deported from Australia ahead of the Australian Open, the Serb made a slow return in Dubai and Monte Carlo, lacking matches and physical fitness.

Novak lost in the Monte Carlo second round and turned his focus to the home ATP 250 event in Belgrade, where he reached the first final of the season. Djokovic had to work hard in all four matches, losing the opening set and battling in the second and third to remain on the title course.

Instead of repeating what he did in the previous three matches in front of the home fans, world no. 1 left without gas in the deciding set of the title clash and suffered a 6-2, 6-7, 6-0 loss to Andrey Rublev. Staying without the trophy but boosting his confidence, Djokovic traveled to Madrid and played an epic semi-final against the young gun Carlos Alcaraz.

Novak took charge from 4-2 in the opener to claim it 7-6, but it was insufficient to propel him through. A teenager stayed calm and scored a massive 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 victory in over three and a half hours for a place in the final.

After the match, Djokovic said he felt fine physically after such a marathon, hoping for another good run in Rome. The Serb played on a high level at Foro Italico to earn the sixth title in the Italian capital and secure the 38th Masters 1000 crown.

Novak did not lose a set in Rome, prevailing over Felix Auger-Aliassime in two tight sets in the quarter-final and toppling Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas to lift the trophy.

Alexander Zverev spoke about Novak Djokovic's Rome run.

Alexander Zverev praised Novak's performance at Foro Italico and said that the Serb should be among the Roland Garros favorites if he maintains that level.

Djokovic ousted Tsitsipas 6-0, 7-6 in an hour and 36 minutes in the final. Thus, the Serb extended his run to 14 seasons with at least one Masters 1000 title and delivered his 87th ATP trophy since 2006. Djokovic ousted Tsitsipas for the seventh time in nine encounters and sixth in a row.

He made a perfect start and came back from 5-2 down in the second set to topple the Greek in the tie break and celebrate the title. "Novak has found his form again, and he has been playing better and better on clay this spring. He had a fantastic tournament in Rome, and he is among the Roland Garros favorites," Alexander Zverev said.