Novak Djokovic will head directly to Paris for Sunday’s Grand Slam start after winning his 83rd career title with a lop-sided win over a No. 255 Slovak qualifier.
The world No. 1 claimed a third trophy at his family-run ATP event (also 2009 and 2011), defeating Alex Molcan 6-4, 6-3 in 89 minutes with six breaks of serve.
Djokovic lost serve three times in the opening set before consolidating to earn the straight-sets success in front of home fans.
The Serb stands third among active players for career honours, with Roger Federer leading the field with 103 titles while Rafael Nadal stands on 88 – including 13 at Roland Garros where Djokovic will take the top seeding.
Top players rarely compete the week before a major but with Djokovic’s family holding a major financial stake in the local event as organisers at the Novak Stadium, it must be assumed the No. 1 son felt obligated to front up.
“It’s been a while since I last played here in front of a crowd,” Djokovic said before presumably dashing to the airport.
“We played here one month ago (the first of two Belgrade editions) without a crowd.
“To hold a trophy here after 10 years is really special and it couldn’t be better ahead of Roland Garros. I’m playing well and feeling good.
Outsider Molcan won six of the first seven points in the final, looking for a moment like making a match of it.
But after breaking the early in a set featuring seven breaks, the 23-year-old challenger began to fold.against his experienced opponent.
“I made my first ATP Tour final from qualification. I played good tennis here and I was fighting,” he said.
“Today, I tried as well, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t play badly, but I was playing against Djokovic and you have to play unbelievably well.
“Hopefully, I can continue to have opportunities to play at this level. It was a big lesson today to play against Novak.”
Djokovic enters Paris with a 20-3 record on the season as he faces Tennys Sandgren in the first round.