Britain’s Andy Murray gave himself the perfect birthday present as he won his first Italian Open title with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Novak Djokovic.
It was a first win on clay against Djokovic in five attempts for the Scot, who turned 29 on Sunday.
He broke serve once in the first set and twice in the second in Rome to win in one hour and 35 minutes.
Murray will return to second in the world rankings before the French Open, which begins on May 22.
He broke the world number one early in the first set, leaving Djokovic – who beat the Scot in last week’s Madrid Open final – visibly frustrated and exchanging words with umpire Damian Steiner.
A deft drop shot at set point saw Murray take the opener 6-3 amid light rain in Rome.
Murray then fought back from break point down to hold serve in the second set, before staving off another two in his next service game.
A frustrated Djokovic, 28, complained rain was making the Foro Italico surface “too dangerous”, but he was told to continue by umpire Steiner, and Murray immediately broke the world number one.
Murray is the first British singles champion in Rome since Virginia Wade in 1971, and the first men’s singles winner there since George Patrick Hughes in 1931.
Murray then moved within a game of victory and the pressure started to tell on Djokovic.
Serving to stay in the contest, the Serb double faulted to hand Murray match point and the Scot duly closed out the win with a fantastic backhand winner from well out of court.