It was a huge relief and joy for British world number three, Andy Murray as he finally claimed his first clay-court win over Novak Djokovic – and with it the Italian Open title in Rome.
The Briton, who turned 29 on Sunday, beat the world number one 6-3 6-3.
It was Murray’s second Masters title on clay and his first win over 11-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic on the surface in five attempts.
“There was a bit more pressure than usual when I play against Novak coming into the match,” Murray told BBC Sport.
“He had an extremely tough semi-final and was coming in more tired. I was very fresh and I think the expectation was that it was a good opportunity for me.
“I’m glad I managed to win and it’s a great way to finish off my birthday.”
Since beating Djokovic to win Wimbledon in 2013, Murray had managed just one victory in 13 matches against the Serb before Sunday.
However, he controlled the final in Rome and held serve throughout, saving three break points with some attacking tennis as Djokovic fought back in the second set.
Murray won his first clay-court titles last year and has since accrued a 29-3 record on what used to be his weakest surface.
The Scot will now head to the French Open, which starts on Sunday, further established among a handful of leading contenders for the title that includes Djokovic and nine-time champion Rafael Nadal.