World no.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic suffered a 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 loss to Rafael Nadal in the Italian Open final. While the Spaniard clinched his 10th title in the Italian capital, Djokovic departs Rome with some confidence.
The Serb has not won a title since his 17th Grand Slam win in Australia. His clay-court season was off to a shaky start in Monte-Carlo and the Serbian Open. But things have changed since then. Djokovic had a difficult path to the championship match in Rome. With a couple of big wins against an in form Stefanos Tsitsipas and Lorenzo Sonego, Djokovic will be confident heading into the French Open.
After his defeat to Nadal, the World no.1 said, “[We played] almost three hours of high-quality tennis. Of course I’m disappointed not to win it, but at the same time I’m very pleased with the level of tennis that I managed to find in the later stages of this tournament. Going into Paris brings me good sensation. I actually now [am starting] to feel like I actually want to feel on clay. So I think if I manage to play the way I played last night and today, I think I have a good chance to go all the way in Paris.”
“I could have easily went out from this tournament in quarters. I’m very pleased with my fighting spirit. The level of tennis was higher and higher, actually. Yesterday I played great. Today I thought I also played a high level,” Djokovic said. “Unfortunately [the] decisive moments in the first and third sets [today] just went his way. It was a bit unfortunate.”
Novak Djokovic feels confident heading into the French Open
For a player of Djokovic’s caliber, confidence is all that is needed heading into a Grand Slam. Being a formidable player on clay himself, the 2016 French Open champion will be the favorite after Nadal.
Although Djokovic fell short of lifting his sixth Rome trophy, he earned a series of mental victories throughout the tournament. The Serb will next compete at the Belgrade Open the week before Roland Garros, where he will be backing himself to lift his second French Open title and a career 18th Grand Slam.
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