2020 in Review: Novak Djokovic downs Diego Schwartzman for Masters 1000 record

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2020 in Review: Novak Djokovic downs Diego Schwartzman for Masters 1000 record

Novak Djokovic claimed the fifth Rome crown, beating the first-time Masters 1000 finalist Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3. The encounter lasted for an hour and 53 minutes, and Djokovic survived a tough opening set like a couple of times that week, overpowering Schwartzman in the second to secure the record-breaking 36th Masters 1000 title, leaving Rafael Nadal on 35.

Novak became the oldest Rome champion and extended his dominance in 2020 after winning 31 out of 32 matches. Djokovic suffered three breaks, two at the beginning of the encounter, and earned five return games to cross the finish line first and claim the second Masters 1000 title of the season.

The Serb hit 29 winners and 26 unforced errors and toppled the rival in the shortest and mid-range exchanges to seal the deal in straight sets. Djokovic opened the clash with a service winner, wasted a game point and suffered a break when his backhand found the net.

Schwartzman fired four service winners in game two that kept him alive and secured the game after Novak's poor drop shot to cement the break and open a 2-0 advantage. Struggling to find the rhythm in the rain, Novak sprayed a backhand error to offer Diego a break chance in game three and netted another one to experience the second break and push the Argentine 3-0 ahead after 18 minutes.

Djokovic started to play better in the fourth game for a wake-up call, creating a break opportunity and converting it following Schwartzman's double fault.

Novak Djokovic earned the 36th Masters 1000 title in Rome, leaving Rafael Nadal on 35.

Attacking with more accuracy, Novak held at 15 with an ace in game five to reduce the deficit to 2-3, hoping for more return chances in the upcoming games.

He forced Diego's error to earn a break point in game six, seizing it when the Argentine netted a forehand right after the serve to erase the deficit and get back to the positive side of the scoreboard. Taking 16 of the previous 21 points, Djokovic held at 15 in game seven with a service winner to move in front for the first time, looking much better than in the opening 20 minutes.

At 30-15 in game eight, Diego fired a perfect forehand down the line winner and sealed the game with a service winner for 4-4. Djokovic fended off a break chance in the ninth game with a volley winner and landed another for a significant hold and a 5-4 lead.

Serving to stay in the set, Diego erased a set point with a forehand winner and brought the game home after two deuces and a backhand down the line winner for 5-5. Novak opened a 6-5 lead with a hold after deuce in game 11 and forced the rival to serve for staying in the second for the second time.

Creating three more set points, Novak converted the last one to grab the set 7-5 after 70 minutes, gaining a massive boost ahead of set number two. Starting all over, Diego kicked off the second set with a break at 15, ready to fight until the end.

Bouncing back immediately, Djokovic pulled the break back to level the score at 1-1 when Schwartzman landed a forehand wide. The Serb placed a winner at the net for a commanding hold in game three, putting the opponent under more pressure.

Djokovic survived two break points in the fifth game, staying focused and bringing it home with a service winner for 3-2. Diego stayed neck and neck and held with a solid drop shot before Novak closed the next at love to open a 4-3 gap.

Cracking under pressure, Schwartzman sprayed unforced errors in game eight to lose serve at love following a backhand down the line winner from Djokovic, who was now serving for the title at 5-3. The Serb held at 30 to seal the deal and celebrate the title in style, his 36th at the Masters 1000 level.