Djokovic beats Tsitsipas to win his 3rd Madrid Open title

(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

By TALES AZZONI

AP Sports Writer

MADRID (AP) Novak Djokovic celebrated a lot more than a record-tying 33rd Masters 1000 title at the Madrid Open.

Djokovic left the Spanish capital feeling pretty good about his game, too, carrying a lot of confidence into the rest of the clay-court season.

The top-ranked Djokovic earned a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday to join Nadal as the most successful players in Masters 1000 tournaments, moving five ahead of Roger Federer, who is third in the all-time list.

It was Djokovic's second title of the season, adding to his triumph in the Australian Open.

"I feel like this tournament win was very important for my level of confidence because after the Australian Open I wasn't playing my best, I wasn't finding the right game and the consistency on the court in Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo," Djokovic said. "(It's a) very important time for me in the season, because this gives me a lot of confidence prior to Rome and, of course, Roland Garros, where I definitely want to play my best."

Djokovic will be seeking his second French Open title in June. He now has three Madrid Open trophies, adding to the ones he won in 2011 and 2016.

"These are the best tournaments, biggest tournaments we have in our sport, in the ATP, of course alongside the Grand Slams," Djokovic said. "This is as important and as good as it gets."

Djokovic was in control from the start against his 20-year-old Greek opponent, who had defeated Nadal in the Madrid semifinals and was trying to become the first player to win three tour titles this season.

The Serb broke Tsitsipas early in the first set and late in the second to comfortably close out the match at the Magic Box center court, securing his 14th clay title - and 74th overall - without dropping a set.

The eighth-seeded Tsitsipas, the tour's winningest player in 2019 with 27 victories, lacked the intensity and aggressiveness that he showed against second-ranked Nadal and was overpowered by Djokovic. He had beaten Djokovic in Toronto last year in the first meeting between the two players.

"He deserved the victory, he played unbelievable. I couldn't do much," Tsitsipas said. "Physically I was not there. My legs were not coping with my mind. Completely I could feel the fatigue and this soreness, not just in my legs, but everywhere in my body. I had a tough match last night, so he took advantage of that. I just didn't have solutions."

Djokovic didn't concede a break point on Sunday, earning a crucial one for himself at 4-4 in the second set by returning Tsitsipas' overhead shot with a backhand winner down the line. He then served out to win the match.

The 31-year-old Djokovic, who now has 200 wins against top 10 opponents, had struggled after winning the Australian Open, with his best result since then having been a quarterfinal appearance in Monte Carlo at the start of the clay-court season.

He was coming off another confidence-boosting win over an in-form Dominic Thiem to make it to the final in Madrid.

Tsitsipas, who will reach a career-high No. 7 ranking this week, won titles in Estoril and Marseille, and reached the final in Dubai, where he lost to Federer. He was beaten by Nadal in the Australian Open semifinals for his best-ever showing in a Grand Slam. The Toronto final, when he lost to Nadal, was his first in a Masters 1000 event.

In the doubles final, Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau defeated Thiem and Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-3 for their second Madrid Open title, adding to their 2016 victory.

Kiki Bertens won the women's title on Saturday.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Updated May 12, 2019

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