By ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer
ROME (AP) — Just in time.
Novak Djokovic raised his first trophy of the year at the Italian Open on Sunday and showed that he’s back in top form exactly a week before the French Open starts.
After missing a large portion of the season because he wasn’t vaccinated against the coronavirus, the top-ranked Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0, 7-6 (5) for his sixth Rome title.
Djokovic didn’t drop a set all week.
Earlier on the red clay court at the Foro Italico, Iga Swiatek defended the women’s title by overwhelming Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-2 to extend her winning streak to 28 matches.
Djokovic needed only a half hour to win the opening set, during which Tsitsipas got so frustrated at one point that he banged his racket against his bag during a changeover and mangled the frame.
After falling behind early in the second set, Djokovic stepped up his game when Tsitsipas served for the set at 5-3.
First, Djokovic ripped a forehand cross-court return winner that landed on the line, then on the next point he pushed Tsitsipas from corner to corner before the fifth-ranked Greek player resorted to a drop shot attempt that landed in the net. Djokovic celebrated with a series of fist pumps as the crowd chanted his nickname: “NO-LE, NO-LE.”
When a backhand from Tsitsipas sailed wide on the first match point, Djokovic simply raised his arms and smiled.
Djokovic, who was deported because of his un-vaccinated status ahead of the Australian Open, hadn’t won a tournament since raising the Paris Masters trophy in November.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion reached the final of his home Serbia Open last month. He was beaten by 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid Open semifinals last week.
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