Djokovic responds to Alcaraz loss ahead of French Open

ROME (AP) — That loss to Carlos Alcaraz seems to have motivated Novak Djokovic to step up his game.

Just in time, too.

A week after his defeat to the 19-year-old Alcaraz in Madrid, Djokovic won the Italian Open without dropping a set on Sunday for his first title of the year.

Having missed a large portion of the season because he wasn’t vaccinated against the coronavirus, the top-ranked Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0, 7-6 (5) for his sixth Rome title.

Now, both Djokovic and Alcaraz need to be considered as top favorites for the French Open, which starts next Sunday.

“I go there with the highest ambitions,” Djokovic said. “I really like my chances. … The way I’ve been feeling on the court and off the court in the last few weeks, I really think I can go far.”

The status of Rafael Nadal, who has won 13 of his record 21 Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros, remains uncertain after the Spaniard’s Italian Open ended earlier than expected when his chronically injured left foot began bothering him again.