The upcoming Roland Garros tournament remains the only Grand Slam trophy to elude Djokovic’s grasp yet his mighty form in 2015 has transitioned without any problems onto the clay courts.
In the Italian capital on Sunday, the Serb outworked and outlasted the legendary Federer in an hour and 15 minutes to demonstrate the prowess against elite opposition on this surface that makes him the favourite heading to Paris.
The first three matches of this pulsating contest rapidly went with serve until Djokovic offered a sign of things to come in the fourth, before Federer eventually held.
A stunning drop shot put Djokovic 3-2 up before Federer responded with the same shot – although it was a brief moment in this final where he was able to match his younger counterpart.
Federer noticeably had a change of tactics with his fourth service game, opting to come to the net and meet his foe in close quarters before volleying points. It spurred him onto his closest attempt at breaking but a 20-shot rally went Djokovic’s way and denied the Swiss player.
At 4-4, Djokovic stepped into another gear that Federer couldn’t match and a brilliant cross-court shot teed up set point which he clinically took.
In just the second game of the next set, Djokovic broke Federer again to make the remainder of the match look ominous. A first break point was saved with a great winner down the line but Djokovic’s spirit never waned and he edged 2-0 up.
Federer’s service games improved in quality as the match went on but he rarely troubled Djokovic when the ball was in the Serb’s hand. He held serve to retain the championship that he also won in Rome last year.
Djokovic only conceded 11 points on serve during the game.
Djokovic has won all four major tournaments that he entered this calendar year. Their overall career record now stands at 20-19 in Federer’s favour.