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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday September 21, 2020

Novak Djokovic is truly the master of Masters.

The Serb powered to the title in Rome to take sole possession of the all-time Masters 1000 trophy lead with 36, as he battled to a 7-5 6-3 victory over Diego Schwartzman in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final on Monday.

Tennis Express

Masters 1000 Titles, All-Time

Djokovic, 36,
Nadal, 35
Federer, 28
Agassi 17,
Murray, 14

It was another resilient effort from Djokovic, who rallied from a double break down in the opening set to claim the advantage before an energized, though sparse crowd at the Foro Italico.

Rain threatened throughout the one hour and fifty-three minute affair, but play continued on in the heavy clay.

Djokovic converted his third set point to take the opener and then pulled away from Schwartzman in the second set, winning the final three games after the pair had traded breaks to get to 3-3.

"I don't think I played my best tennis throughout the entire week, but I think I found my best tennis when I needed it the most, in the decisive moments, today, yesterday, practically every match,” Djokovic said on court after the final. “That makes me definitely very satisfied and proud."

The triumph marks Djokovic’s fifth title in Rome and his 81st overall. He becomes the oldest Rome men’s singles champion with the win and heads to Roland Garros with a 31-1 record in 2002. The only blemish on the record, of course, the unfortunate default that occurred in the round of 16 at the US Open when the Serb inadvertently hit a linesperson with a tennis ball.

The title in Rome should help the World No.1 refresh his perspective and put the aforementioned incident further in the rearview mirror.

“I moved on," Djokovic said. "I never had an issue in my life to move on from something, regardless of how difficult it is. I try to take the next day and hope for the best and move on, obviously having a tournament a week after that happened helped a lot. I really wanted to get on the court and just get whatever traces of that, if there are any, out of me."

Despite his rippling form Djokovic feels strongly that Nadal is always the favorite in Paris, where the Spaniard has won 12 titles already, but the Serb says he likes his chances nevertheless.

“We all know who the main favorite is there, Nadal and everything that he has achieved there, losing maybe a couple matches in his entire career on that court, which is probably the most impressive record that anybody has on any court,” Djokovic said earlier this week at Rome. “Of course you would put him right in front as the favorite to win it, Dominic Thiem has been playing a couple of finals there, last couple of years, so he’s definitely right up there.” I like my chances if I prepare myself well. I won that tournament as well, I played the finals before, I had always good results in Roland Garros.”

Djokovic now owns 81 career titles, which is fifth on the all-time ATP list, and just four behind Rafael Nadal.

All-Time ATP Titles

1. Connors, 109
2. Federer, 103
3. Lendl, 95
4. Nadal, 85
5. Djokovic, 81


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