There was no photo. While the lineup was attractive on paper and Stefanos Tsitsipas had made an interesting start in the final, Novak Djokovic was simply too strong on Sunday to win the Astana Open (ATP 500). The Serbian had a solid match, giving the impression of having no faults to win with authority in two sets (6-3, 6-4) and 1h16 of play against the Greek. He thus obtains the trophy number 90 of his career on the ATP circuit, the fourth in 2022 and especially the third in a row after Tel Aviv last week and … Wimbledon three months ago.
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Who can stop him at the end of the season? At this rate, the question deserves to be asked. Physically fresh for this final stretch due to a season fragmented by forced stoppages (due to not being vaccinated), Novak Djokovic lines up the victories as the boss of the circuit that he unquestionably continued to be last year. On Sunday, Stefanos Tsitsipas entered his match very well, with strong offensive intentions. But he paid dearly for his first moment of hesitation and had no chance of recovering.
Impeccable service and 7 small unforced errors
Because on the other side of the net, he was the “Djoker” of the great days: the one capable of attacking his opponent at the slightest opportunity, but also of giving it all back to the exchange when the battle hardens from the bottom. Absolute master of tennis-percentage, he disgusted his rival after beating him in the eighth game (5-3). To be convinced of the level of play reached by the Serbian and his surgical precision of the day, a quick glance at his statistics is enough: 15 winning shots for 7 small unforced errors and no break points conceded.
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Seven is also the number of his lost points on serve. Djokovic was only under light pressure in the third game of this final, where he found himself at 0/30. Tsitsipas then exploited each short ball, cleverly varying the backhand game by alternating dry shots and low cuts, an area in which he has made progress in recent months. But the Serb had a quick response to everything and the length of his ball, both in the relaunch and in the exchange, gradually suffocated the Greek. With 79% of first serves, he fully protected in his engagements and shifted the pressure more and more frankly on opposing service games once the first set was in his pocket.
Officially classified, he is already a favorite for the Masters
At the same time, Tsitsipas saw his first serve percentage drop, making him more vulnerable on his second serves. Two games from all sides in the second set, he conceded a new break, one too many, deprived of solutions by Djokovic who forced him to play hard. And even when the Greek took the ball early and seemed to outflank his opponent, he was punished for the Serb’s passing accuracy.
No, definitely, there was nothing to be done against the most underrated world number 7 in history. Djokovic now has 16 consecutive wins on tour, the last loss for him dating back to his quarter-final at Roland Garros against Rafael Nadal. He even won 25 of his last 26 matches. And with Paris-Bercy and the Masters on the horizon (which he is now qualified for because he is guaranteed a Top 20 finish in Race and a Wimbledon winner) on the horizon, it is now hard not to have the man take him down.
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