Novak Djokovic broke fresh ground in the chase for tennis immortality with his fifth career title at the Rome Masters on Monday.

The Serb took a tighter grip on the No. 1 ranking with his 7-5, 6-3 defeat of Argentine Diego Schwartzman, winning 12 of the last 14 points.

Djokovic made a double entry in the record books, taking the lead in the all-time list of Masters 1000 titles on 36 and surpassing his idol Pete Sampras  for the second-most weeks as No. 1 in rankings history (287).

Roger Federer still leads all comers on 310 weeks.

The 33-year-old Djokovic heads to the rescheduled French Open starting in Paris on Sunday as a co-title favourite along with Rafael Nadal, whom Schwartzman eliminated in a quarter-final thriller here.

“I had a great week, very challenging,” the winner of 81 career trophies said. “I didn’t play my best tennis this week, but I found fifth gears at the critical moments in matches.

“I’m proud I was able to do it when I needed it the most.

“Turning to Paris, I could not have asked for a better week in Rome, I’m super-pleased with it”

Djokovic quickly recovered from a double break in the opening set as light rain set in for a few games. The top seed got them both back and broke Schwartzman in the final game of the set to take it after 71 minutes.

“Diego was playing his first Masters final and he did well,” Djokovic said. “It was heavy conditions at the beginning, drizzling, raining, noise all around… it was a bit windy.

“It took us both time to get used to the conditions.”

Djokovic took control in the second set, after again losing his opening serve, saved two break points in the fifth game and finished off the week on his third match point.

ROMA MENS FINAL Novak Djokovic defeated Diego Schwartzman 7-5 6-3 to win his 5th Italian Open Photo © Ray Giubilo

Rome is the fourth Masters event that Djokovic has won at least five times.

He was competing in the 115th final of his career and now stands 5-5 in Rome finals.

He improved to 31-1 this virus interrupted season; the loss kept Schwartzman from breaking into the ranking Top 10 for the first time.

Main photo:- Novak Djokovic wins his 5th Italian Open Photo © Ray Giubilo

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