Capping off a very exciting week in Rome will be the tenth meeting between Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas. One seems to be back in his best shape, the other is balancing between the first and second leagues when it comes to French Open contenders. Who do you think will clinch the 2022 Internazionali BNL d’Italia title?
Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
Head-to-head: Djokovic 6-3
Even in Belgrade less than a month ago, Novak Djokovic was far from convincing. The Serbian was dropping sets left and right and struggling with the physical toll of returning to tennis after a break. However, it looks like these issues are long gone. In Madrid, Djokovic made the semifinals going out to Carlos Alcaraz in a third-set tie-breaker. He’s been even deadlier in Rome, not dropping a set in four matches so far.
Stefanos Tsitsipas won the first clay ATP 1000 event of the season in Monte Carlo. It feels like all his rivals have improved since then, while he’s just been slightly underwhelming. He’s still going deep in all the clay events, but he’s getting pulled into tough fights in the early rounds like the one against Grigor Dimitrov here, where he had to fend off two match points. Against Carlos Alcaraz in Barcelona or even both the matches against Alexander Zverev (lost in Madrid, won in Rome), he was nowhere near his best.
Djokovic leads their head-to-head on clay 4-0, but it’s never been that easy. Tsitsipas took him to five sets at Roland Garros twice and served for the match in Rome last year. This surface covers a lot of the weak points of the Greek’s game, mostly relating to his one-handed backhand. He can step around it much more easily, the return is stronger and he shanks considerably less when given more time on the ball.
Yet, the Serbian has been the better player this week by a country mile. His game has been nowhere near as up and down as his opponent’s and with the 20-time Grand Slam champion, you just expect him to deliver on the mental front too.
Prediction: Djokovic in 3