World No. 1 Novak Djokovic admitted he thought he didn't play his best tennis throughout the week after winning it all at the Rome Masters for the fifth time in his career. Djokovic, seeded at No. 1 in the Rome Masters main draw, was struggling early on in the final against Argentine clay-court specialist Diego Schwartzman but still claimed a 7-5 6-3 win to claim his fifth title of the season.
En route to making it all the way Rome, the 33-year-old Serb also beat Salvatore Caruso, Filip Krajinovic, Dominik Koepfer and Casper Ruud. "It was a great week. A very challenging week. I don’t think I played my best tennis throughout the entire week, but I think I found my best tennis when I needed it the most in the decisive moments today, yesterday [and in] practically every match,” Djokovic said, per the ATP website.
Djokovic enters the French Open in great spirits
Djokovic, who won his lone French Open title in 2016 to claim a Career Grand Slam, now switches his focus to Roland Garros as he will be aiming to continue his strong year and win back-to-back titles on clay.
Rafael Nadal, a record 12-time French Open champion, was beaten in the Rome quarterfinal but still he is the top favorite to win it all at Roland Garros. “That definitely makes me very satisfied and proud that I managed to find that fifth gear when it was most needed.
Turning to Paris, I couldn’t ask for a better tournament here in Rome. Another big title and [I am] super pleased with it," Djokovic added. Schwartzman, who stunned nine-time Rome champion Nadal in the quarterfinal, started the final with back-to-back breaks as he got off to a quick 3-0 lead against Djokovic.
But world No. 1 Djokovic showed great mental strength as he broke Schwartzman three times to steal the opener. Schwartzman also started the second set with a break but his lead was short-lived as Djokovic broke back the Argentine in the following game.
Djokovic claimed his fifth break of the match in the eighth game and then routinely served out for the match in the following game. “[Diego] played well in heavy conditions, especially at the beginning… He played many long matches.
He had fantastic wins against Nadal and Shapovalov last night, so credit to him for a phenomenal tournament and I wish him all the best in the rest of the season," Djokovic said.