Djokovic in the bullseye, Jabeur challenges Swiatek

Novak Djokovic won his 1,000th victory on Saturday to reach the final of the Masters 1000 in Rome, against the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (5th), with the objective of a sixth crown on Italian clay one week before the start of Roland- Garros.

Among the women, the Tunisian Ons Jabeur (7th) qualified “in the mind” against the Russian Daria Kasatkina (23rd), by erasing a match point, to be able to challenge Sunday (1:00 p.m.) the world N.1 and holder of the title Iga Swiatek.

“If I could have chosen a place to celebrate this 1000th victory, it would have been in Serbia or here,” smiled “Nole” as he received a cake displaying the symbolic number. He is, at 34, the fifth player to join a very closed club which has so far had only Jimmy Connors (record holder with 1,274 successes), Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl and Rafael Nadal as members.

The 1,000th victory was not necessarily the easiest against a catchy Casper Ruud (10th) and beaten 6-4, 6-3.

But it confirms the return to great shape of the world No.1, still without a title in 2022 after a first quarter almost at a standstill due to its non-vaccination against Covid.

In the absence of Rafael Nadal, emperor with ten Roman coronations eliminated in the eighth, and Carlos Alcaraz, a phenomenon at rest for Roland-Garros (May 22-June 5), Djokovic did not fail, in the final without losing of sets.

– First for Tsitsipas –

“Nole”, who sees Rome as his “second home”, will play Sunday (4 p.m.) against Tsitsipas his twelfth final at Foro Italico (five wins in 2008, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2020), the fourth in a row.

But beware of the 23-year-old Greek, in search of revenge for the final of the last edition of Roland-Garros, won by the Serb after a battle in five sets.

Tsitsipas was particularly solid on his serve and opportunistic in his third semi-final in less than a month against Alexander Zverev (3rd).

The key was to be “able to hit the first shot after the service and put the pressure on”, underlined the one who will play his first final in Rome, a few weeks after retaining his title at the Masters 1000 in Monte-Carlo. .

Zverev pleaded fatigue after reaching the final in Madrid last week (beaten by Carlos Alcaraz): “I played long matches here. I’m not a machine, I’m a human being,” said the champion Olympic.

On the women’s side, Jabeur displayed a flawless character in the absence of regularity in his shots to bend the Russian Daria Kasatkina (23rd) 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 and win his second final in eight days. , after his title in Madrid.

– “No limits” –

Like Friday in the quarter-final against the Greek Maria Sakkari (4th), the 27-year-old player experienced strange slumps but was able to reverse a desperate situation in the third set.

At 4-5 against her, the Tunisian found the winning shot, full line, to erase a match point. Completely back in the saddle, she then took the service of the Russian to equalize at 5-5 and conclude in stride.

The ogress Swiatek is warned: it is a survivor that she will find facing her on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Polish, big favorite of Roland-Garros, did not drag to win her 27th victory in a row by atomizing Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, seeded N.3, 6-2, 6-1.

The 2020 Roland-Garros winner will try to win her fifth consecutive tournament on Sunday after her successes in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami and Stuttgart. She had “zapped” Madrid, won by Jabeur, to rest a sore arm.

“I constantly surprise myself by doing better and better. I feel like now I can really believe that there is no limit,” she smiled.

Since 2000, only Venus Williams (35), Serena Williams (34) and Justine Henin (32) have done better than the 27 victories in a row obtained so far by the Pole, undefeated since mid-February. The absolute record dates back to 1984 (Martina Navratilova 74).


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