Novak Djokovic has admitted he was always “looking forward” to reaching a mileston 1,000th career win after watching his rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal achieve the feat over the last few years. The world No 1 clinched victory number 1,000 with a 6-4 6-3 win over Casper Ruud in the Italian Open semi-finals.
Djokovic reached a landmark 1,000th career win by beating Ruud to book his place in the Italian Open final, and tournament organisers were quick to surprise their top seed with a large cake with the number 1,000 emblazened over it in icing in a small presentation on the court.
Thanking the organisers and fans for helping him celebrate, the world No 1 admitted he had been looking forward to the moment ever since he saw his rivals Federer and Nadal clinch their own 1,000th wins, coming in 2015 and 2020 respectively, as he admitted they played a part in his motivation. “Yeah thanks to the tournament and the crowd for celebrating this milestone with me,” he said after.
“Obviously I was seeing Roger and Rafa celebrate in the last couple of years and I was looking forward to get to that 1000 myself and O’m really really blessed and privileged to have that many victories on tour. It’s been a long time ever since I played my first match, ever since won my first match on the tour. Hopefully I can keep going and many, many more victories to come.”
The five-time former champion in Rome also assessed his performance against the fifth seed after getting off to a fast start before Ruud stepped it up. “I thought I played very well, I started fantastic. I mean 4-0 then you know, I did slow down a bit, I did drop my level and I wasn’t feeling that great on the court for about 15, 20 minutes.
“He used that, I think he managed to get himself back in the first set, it was important to close it out in the 10th game to clinch the first set. Second set, close couple of games at the beginning but I always felt in his service games I always had chances. I thought I played really really well in the first four games and last four games of the match, and hopefully I can take that level into tomorrow’s final.”
The 20-time Major champion will now face Stefanos Tsitsipas for win number 1,001 and for the Italian Open title. It will be a rematch of last year’s French Open final, in which Djokovic came from two sets down to win the 19th of his 20 Grand Slams. Looking back the match, he said: “Yeah I mean it was in finals of Roland Garros. Again, another finals against him in one of the biggest tournaments we have in the world.”
And Djokovic was complimentary of the world No 5, continuing: “He’s definitely in form, the last few years he’s been top two, three clay court players, in general the top two, theee in the world but especially on the clay court. Winning Monte Carlo, always reaching final stages of the biggest events on clay so touch match expecting me.
“I think last year, two years ago we played really, really long two-day quarter-final and I can expect a big battle on the court but I’m ready for it.”