ATP Rome: Novak Djokovic downs Diego Schwartzman for record-breaking title



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ATP Rome: Novak Djokovic downs Diego Schwartzman for record-breaking title

World no. 1 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 this week, prevailing in the second to secure the record-breaking 36th Masters 1000 title, leaving Rafael Nadal on 35.

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

Djokovic opened the clash with a service winner, wasting a game point and suffering a break when his backhand found the net. Schwartzman fired four service winners in game two that kept him alive, securing the game after a poor drop shot from Novak 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, netting another one to suffer 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.

Attacking with more accuracy, Novak held at 15 with an ace in game five to reduce the deficit to 2-3, hoping for more chances on the return in the upcoming games. He forced an error from Diego 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, sealing the game with a service winner for 4-4.

Novak Djokovic became the first player with 36 Masters 1000 titles.

Djokovic fended off a break point in the ninth game with a volley winner, landing 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, bringing 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, forcing 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.

Overcoming that terrible start, Djokovic dominated in the shortest points to bring the set home after a marathon, moving closer to his 36th Masters 1000 title as he never lost a Masters 1000 final after winning the opener.

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. The Argentine fired four winners in game four to level the score at 2-2, surviving the first set en route to the second set.

Djokovic survived two break points in the fifth game, staying focused and bringing it home with a service winner for 3-2. Diego stayed beck and neck, holding with a solid drop shot before Djokovic 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.