Novak Djokovic played a pure, pristine brand of tennis on Sunday to defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 to win the third edition of the Astana Open.
It was the ninth consecutive match victory for the fourth seed, who won the title a week ago in Tel Aviv. This was the 90th tour-level title for the 35-year-old and it required only 75 minutes.
For the third-seeded Greek Tsitsipas, it was the ninth time he played in an ATP 500 final – and the ninth time he came up empty. Djokovic now leads their ATP Head2Head series 8-2 and has won the past seven.
As a result of the win, the Serbian star secured himself a Top 20 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race to Turin after the 2022 Rolex Paris Masters, meaning the reigning Wimbledon champion qualifies for the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals as a current-year Grand Slam winner. It was the 90th career tour-level title for Djokovic and the fourth of 2022.
When the on-court interviewer observed that Djokovic probably never dreamed of 90 ATP Tour titles, Djokovic shook his head.
“I dared to dream, actually,” he corrected. “I always hoped that I would be going to have a great career. Obviously, didn’t know the amount of finals I was going to play, the amount of tournaments I was going to win, but my intention was always to reach the highest heights in our sport.”
Tsitsipas will return to the Top 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Monday and the 24-year-old Greek still leads all ATP Tour players with 53 match wins.
Djokovic began the match with an extraordinary level of play, winning the first game at love in a little over one minute. With Tsitsipas serving at 3-4, the 21-time major champion turned up the heat. Employing the drop shot that undid DaniIL Medveded in a semi-final tie-break, Djokovic went on to create the only break point of the first set.
After Tsitsipas over-hit a forehand, Djokovic served it out, finishing a flourish – and ace outside.
Djokovic scored another break in the fifth game of the second set when a frustrated Tsitsipas attempted a drop shot that fell into the net. Later, Djokovic converted his third match point with a backhand winner into an open court.
“I’m just very grateful and blessed to be able to play this well at this stage of my life,” Djokovic said. “You know, 35 is not 25. But I think the experience, probably, in these kinds of matches and big occasions helps as well to approach mentally in the right way.”
Did nearly three months away from tennis following his win at Wimbledon make Djokovic hungrier for success?
“Well, it did,” Djokovic said. “I could not ask for a better re-start of the season. I’m super-pumped and motivated to end the season as well as I have done these past couple of weeks.”
For the match, Djokovic won 87 per cent (33/38) of his first-serve points. He did not face a break point, hitting15 winners and committing only seven unforced errors. Tsitsipas, meanwhile, consistently struggled to land his forehand.
This was the 10th all Top-10 final of the year and second at an ATP 500 event after World No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated Tsitsipas at the 2022 Rotterdam final.