Novak Djokovic claimed the first Masters 1000 title on clay in Rome 2008, returning to the Foro Italico a year later and reaching the semi-final. The world’s best players Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal stood between Novak and Rome’s second crown, with the Serb passing the first test in the semi-final with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Roger Federer.
Novak defeated Roger after two hours and 11 minutes, losing the first set and trailing 3-1 in sets two and three before emerging at the top to set up the Rafael Nadal clash. Djokovic beat Federer for the fourth and first time on clay, fending off eight of 11 break chances and earning five breaks to cross the finish line first.
Federer could have opened up a 6-4, 3-0 lead and moved closer to the finish line, wasting break chances in that third game of the second set before rain washed them off the court for 70 minutes. Djokovic played with more energy when they came back and took the set in style to force a decider.
The Serb admitted that he would have been difficult to match Roger if he had gone 6-4, 3-0 up, revealing that he played with more energy and stamina once they got back on the court. When they resumed action, Djokovic fended off a break chance at 1-3 to stay in contention and got broken to level the score at 3-3.
In the eighth game, the Swiss made another backhand error to fall 5-3 and allowed the Serb to make an impressive comeback and seal the set on his serve at 5-3. After losing five straight games, Federer bounced back and produced two comfortable at-bats early in the decider and broke Djokovic at 15 in game four to open a 3-1 gap thanks to Novak’s wild forehand.
Goran Ivanisevic speaks about Djokovic
Still under a three-year ban following his incredible expulsion from Australia last January, Novak Djokovic still does not know if he will be able to participate in the 2023 edition of the Australian Open and if this ban will be lifted by the current government, which is no longer the same as at the time of “Djokogate”.
Interviewed by Croatian Sportske Novosti, Goran Ivanisevic, after having cast doubt on Djokovic’s participation in the Masters 1000 in Paris, also spoke about the two titles gleaned by his player in Tel Aviv and Astana.
“He played brilliantly, especially in Astana. It’s as if he hadn’t taken a break at all when he hadn’t taken part in any tournaments since Wimbledon”, launched the Croatian coach before speaking about the thorny case of the Australian Open. “Novak has not changed his mind about vaccines and his health, it is now up to Australians to decide.”