Top-ranked Novak Djokovic bolstered his clay-court credentials a week ahead of Roland Garros with a convincing 6-4, 6-3 win over Roger Federer on Sunday to capture his fourth Italian Open title.
Extending his winning streak to 22 matches, Djokovic proved too consistent and too quick for Federer, who has never won the title at the Foro Italico in 15 appearances.
“It was a great week and today was my best match,” Djokovic told the crowd in Italian. “It's always a pleasure to play against Roger and obviously I'm very pleased by today. … Along with 2011, this is the best year of my career. I don't know how (to) continue at Roland Garros but obviously I have a lot of confidence. I hope I can continue like this.”
Djokovic produced a spectacular return to set up the decisive break at the end of the first set then got an early break in the second.
In the women's tournament, Maria Sharapova rallied to beat 10th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 and win her third Rome title.
The victory gives Sharapova confidence as she prepares to defend her title at the French Open, which starts next weekend.
The French Open is the only Grand Slam that Djokovic has never won, and he will enter as the favorite this year considering Rafael Nadal's recent struggles.
Djokovic also won the Rome title in 2008, 2011 and last year.
Sharapova's first two titles in Rome came back-to-back in 2011 and 2012.
“It's always a special victory,” Sharapova said during the trophy presentation. “It isn't my first time but when I'm able to hold the trophy again it brings back memories of winning it the first time.”