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Novak Djokovic, with 1,000 wins

Written in SPORTS the 15/5/2022 · 01:30 hs

This is just what Novak Djokovic needed a week before the French Open.

The Serbian, first in the world ranking, defeated Casper Ruud 6-4 and 6-3 yesterday in the semifinal of the Italian Open, with which he settled in his most important final so far this year.

After missing much of the activity at the start of the season due to his refusal to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, Djokovic will seek to extend his winning streak to five against the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, his rival in today’s final.

Tsitsipas reached his first final in Rome by beating Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Djokovic seeks his sixth title in Rome. He got the 1,000th career win from him. He is only the fifth man to reach that mark, after Jimmy Connors (1,274), Roger Federer (1,251), Ivan Lendl (1,068) and Rafael Nadal (1,051).

After the match, Djokovic was presented with a cake with the number 1,000 written on it.

“I saw Roger and Rafa celebrate those milestones, and I was looking forward to having 1,000 wins as well,” he said.

The Balkan star is playing just his fifth tournament of the year. His previous best result was reaching the final of the Serbian Open last month. The week before, he fell to 19-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid Open semifinal.

In the women’s division, not since Serena Williams seven years ago has a woman had a winning streak like Iga Swiatek’s.

The number one defeated Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 and 6-1 to add 27 consecutive wins and advance to the final.

Williams had won the same number of matches in 2014 and 2015.

“I constantly surprise myself that I can play better and better,” Swiatek said. “I feel like now I can believe there is no ceiling. That’s the best”.

Defending her title in Rome and seeking her fifth straight tournament, Swiatek will face Ons Jabeur, who beat Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 for her 11th. consecutive victory and who won the Madrid Open last week.

Swiatek had the same number of winners and unforced errors, while Sabalenka had eight winners and a whopping 31 unforced errors.

“Today I felt like I really understood clay,” Swiatek said.

Sabalenka requested a medical break in the second set to receive treatment on her back.

Swiatek, the surprise 2020 French Open champion when she was ranked No.54, will be the favorite to win her second Roland Garros title. The second Grand Slam of the year begins next weekend.

Swiatek’s opponent in today’s Italian final will be Ons Jabeur, who is on a 10-match winning streak.—AP

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