Rafael Nadal "Number One Favourite", Says Novak Djokovic

Tanya Simon
September 22, 2020

Novak Djokovic grabbed his fifth Rome title and with it a record 36th Masters shield after beating Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3 on Monday.

"Now we turn to Paris and I couldn't ask for a better tournament here in Rome", the 33-year-old Djokovic, the oldest male victor of the Italian Open title, said.

Schwartzman, who was playing his first Masters 1000 final having beaten clay court supremo Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, broke Djokovic at the start of the second set, only for the world No. 1 to immediately break back.

Djokovic will bid for a record 36th Masters title on Sunday, being now tied on 35 with Nadal.

Two early breaks saw Schwartzman mount a 3-0 lead in the first set on Monday, but Djokovic rallied and took the next four games in a row.

Having been pushed back four months to September to escape the worst of the coronavirus, the French Open gets underway on Sunday still struggling to loosen the grip of the deadly pandemic.

Two unforced errors from Schwartzman and a victor from Djokovic set up three break points in the eighth game, the first of which the Serb converted with a blistering forehand victor.

In the women's final, top-seeded Simona Halep will face second-seeded Karolina Plikova, the defending champion.

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"I'm super pleased", Djokovic said.

The drop shots began to pay off, though, as evidenced when Djokovic won a 19-shot rally to save a break point at 4-4 in the first set with a short ball that set up an easy volley victor.

Meanwhile, Djokovic was delighted to win the Italian Open but he hopes to kick on at Rolan Garros. I need to play more than my 100%.

At Roland Garros, players and their entourages will be confined to two bio-secure hotels.

"I have to see a doctor to make sure it's not too severe of an injury".

Serena Williams is scheduled to play as the 38-year-old continues her quest for an elusive 24th major. But losing that many serves, you can't expect to win a match, no? I started going up in the rankings here in 2013.

"I had a chance to win it up a break twice in the third set, so I'm happy I was able to nearly find a way to win despite struggling with one of my main weapons today", Shapovalov said.

On the red clay of Paris itself, where he has only lost twice in his career, Nadal will target a 13th title in what will be just his fifth tournament of 2020.

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