Novak Djokovic: Adam Hills shares opinion on tennis star
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Novak Djokovic longs for Stan Wawrinka to recapture his best form after the pair squared off for the first time in almost three years at the Italian Open. After playing limited matches in 2022, the Serbian is gradually discovering his best tennis after dispatching the Swiss star 6-2, 6-2 in the third round.
In just his second tournament since returning from a year out following double foot surgery, the former world number three notched impressive wins over Reilly Opelka and Laslo Djere in Rome. But at this stage of his comeback, facing the sport’s top ranked player was always going to prove a difficult proposition.
Following the match, Djokovic assessed his performance and revealed what he hopes to see from the the three-time Grand Slam champion moving forward. “I felt I played solid with a lot of discipline from the beginning, made him move. On the other hand, I wish that Stan comes back to the desired level, for sure.
“At the moment I think movement is different. You can see he’s slower.” Djokovic is pleased to see his rival back on the tour and stressed his value to the sport over the years.
JUST IN: Novak Djokovic eases past old rival Stan Wawrinka to reach Italian Open quarter-final
“It’s great to see a big champion like Stan back, winning two matches after a long time,” said the tennis legend. “We all know how important he has been for our sport in the last 10 years, winning three Slams, being an established top-five, top-10 player for many years.”
The Serb hugged the baseline throughout the set and successfully outmanoeuvred Wawrinka through a combination of precise groundstrokes and drop shots to lead after 31 minutes. With his foot on the pedal, Djokovic continued to demonstrate great feel and power in the second set to frustrate the Swiss star.
The 34-year-old returned aggressively as he read the Wawrinka serve well throughout, breaking three times in the second set to triumph in 75 minutes. “I managed to do well from the beginning. I really moved him around the court and held my serve comfortably except for that loss of my serve in the second set,” the 20-time major winner added.
Djokovic needs to win his next match to retain his number one ranking, but faces a stiff challenge from Felix Auger-Aliassime, who he will play for the very first time. “I have known Felix for quite a few years,” Djokovic said of his next opponent.
“He is established, a Top 10 player, so is right up there. He is as hard worker on the Tour that you see and he is a nice guy. His all-around game is improving. He is improving on clay. I know his game and what is expected.”
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