ROME: Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic on clay for the first time to win the Italian Open title on Sunday in a match that Djokovic argued should have been stopped due to rain.
Gaining a measure of revenge for his loss to Djokovic in the Madrid Open final a week ago, the third-ranked Murray defeated the top-ranked Djokovic 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 35 minutes.
Djokovic had won all four of their previous matches on clay but had to fight fatigue following draining wins over Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori.
It’s Murray’s first title in Rome and it comes exactly a week before the French Open begins.
Earlier, Serena Williams ended a nine-month title drought with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 win over Madison Keys in an all-American women’s final.
Djokovic — who beat Nishikori 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) in the semi-final on Saturday — was not at his best and in a grumpy mood, complaining on several occasions to the umpire about the slippery court surface on a damp day at the Foro Italico.
He slumped to only his third defeat of the entire season, hitting a couple of errant forehands and a double fault in the final game before Murray — who made it through to the final with a clinical 6-2, 6-1 win over Frenchman Lucas Pouille — conjured up one inspirational backhand winner to lift the title.
In the first all-American WTA claycourt final since Serena beat her older sister Venus to win her maiden French Open title in 2002, the world number one claimed her first trophy of the season and 70th overall.
Keys, who wowed the Rome crowd in a battling 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 semi-final against Spanish third seed Garbine Muguruza, started with conviction, breaking Serena in the opening game and taking the first set to a tiebreak.
But once Serena — a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Irina-Camelia Begu on Saturday — got into her stride, the 34-year-old’s powerful serve and range of shots proved too much for Keys.