Italian Open 2021: Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas Preview; Head-to-Head and Prediction

Published 05/13/2021, 3:18 PM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 14, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his second round match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner REUTERS/Eric Gaillard


World number one Novak Djokovic, who is yet to win a clay-court title this season, has made a good start at the Italian Open with back-to-back straight set victories against Taylor Fritz and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

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While the Serb had a momentary lapse of concentration in his opening round match against Fritz, he kept his cool and clinched the match in the second-set tie-breaker.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 15, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his third round match against Britain’s Dan Evans REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

With these two victories, the defending Italian Open champion is all set to face the next big hurdle in the quarter-finals, where he faces the young Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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Tsitsipas has had a phenomenal run so far on the red dirt this year as he won the Monte-Carlo Masters and also reached the finals in Barcelona, where he lost to Rafael Nadal. The Greek player defeated Marin Cilic and Matteo Berrettini to reach the Italian Open quarter-finals.

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Italian Open 2021: Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas Preview

Eighteen-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic will be the favorite heading into this encounter. When he had an abrupt end to his Monte-Carlo Masters campaign, the Serb decided to skip Barcelona Open and Madrid Masters to focus on his home tournament in Belgrade.

In ATP Belgrade, Djokovic lost to the rising Russian Aslan Karatsev in a brutal three-set encounter. As the defending champion at Rome, the Serb decided to fancy his chances at the event instead of competing in Madrid.

On the other hand, Stefanos Tsitsipas will have no pressure entering the quarter-finals tomorrow. The Greek can play his fierce, aggressive game to try to beat the best player in the world.

But there is a lot of improvement to be made on his return game. Even in today’s match against Berrettini, Tsitsipas struggled to return the top-quality serve from the Italian.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021 Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in action during his second round match against Croatia’s Marin Cilic REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

As a result of this, Tsitsipas’ backhand becomes an easy target for Novak Djokovic to gain a lot of free points on his serve.

Head-to-Head

Both Djokovic and Tsitsipas have played against each other six times on the ATP tour so far. Their most recent encounter took place at the French Open last year, where the Serb defeated Tsitsipas in an enthralling five-set encounter.

Also, Djokovic has the upper hand against the Greek as he has won four out of the six matches they played. The Serb also won both the matches played on the red dirt.

Italian Open 2021: Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas Prediction

For Tsitsipas to have any chance of defeating Djokovic, he has to remain aggressive from the baseline right from the start. It will be a battle of contrasting game styles which promises excitement for fans.

Even though the Greek likes to win shorter points, he is also equipped with the right game to convert defense to attack from the baseline. However, the consistency of Tsitsipas in winning long rallies will become a prominent factor in deciding the winner of this match.

Over the past few years, it became clear to any tennis fan that Djokovic can win a match even when he isn’t in great form. His remarkable ability to keep almost every ball in play while playing big points is exemplary.

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In the end, Tsitispas should be able to handle immense pressure on his serve from the Serb to survive the battle. Also, expect the Greek to come to the net more often just to surprise Djokovic.

With his current form, Tsitsipas can produce a huge upset at the Italian Open by thrashing the defending champion. At the same time, if the Greek attacks hard at the beginning of the match, he might lose momentum quickly and allow Djokovic to take over and dominate him.

Novak Djokovic is assured of a victory if he is able to extract free points on his serve by targeting the backhand of Tsitsipas consistently. It’s a battle of all-round aggression versus top-notch defense as fans are assured of an engaging quarter-final tomorrow.

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Final Prediction: Novak Djokovic to win in three sets

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Sagar Ashtakoula

373 articles

Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Having developed an interest in creating content, he mixed his passion for writing with his love for tennis for 2 years at SportsKeeda before joining the tennis team at EssentiallySports.

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