World No. 1 Novak Djokovic looks to have returned to his usual best as he picked up his record-extending 38th career Masters title defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the finals of the 2022 Rome Masters. After serving a bagel to Stefanos in the first set, the Greek made things difficult and looked to force a decider but Novak showed his brilliance once again to force a second-set tiebreaker that he went on to win and wrap the match in straight-sets.
With the win in Rome, Novak extends his lead in the ‘Big titles’ race as he now has 63 titles that include his 20 Grand Slams, 38 Masters-1000 and 5 Year-End Championship titles. Following him are close rivals Rafael Nadal with 58 big titles including 21 Grand Slam titles, 36 Masters-1000 and 1 Olympics singles Gold.
Roger Federer is third on the list with a tally of 54 titles that have his 20 Grand Slams, 28 Masters-1000 and 6 Year-End Championships titles. With the Big-3 always in a race to better records and continue to have possibly the biggest rivalry in the sport, Djokovic picked who is his biggest opponent between the two of his closest rivals and went on to justify why he picked the other.
“We are always competing. Federer and Nadal have always been there, but for me, Rafa is the biggest opponent of my career. I have grown as a player because he has pushed me to it,” said Novak during a press conference after winning the Rome Masters title.
Novak Djokovic’s record against Rafael Nadal
Having picked Rafa as his biggest rival, Novak can relish the fact that he leads the Spaniard in their head-to-head. Their 58 meetings so far are the most between any pair of players in the Open Era. In their 4 grasscourt meetings, the two have shared the spoils at 2-2 while Djokovic has taken the upper hand in their 21 hardcourt meetings leading the Spaniard 16-5.
The ‘King of Clay‘ has shown his dominance over the surface as he leads the Serbian 19-8 in their 27 meetings. The duo has met in the finals of all four majors and over the years have played some historic matches including the 2012 Australian Open finals which remains the longest Grand Slam finals as it lasted for 5 hours, 53 minutes before Novak clinched the title. Djokovic leads Rafa 30-28 in the head-to-head.