Andy Murray landed a major psychological blow ahead of the French Open after defeating world number one Novak Djokovic for the first time on clay to claim his maiden title at the Rome Masters. On the day of his 29th birthday Murray produced perhaps his best ever display on his least favoured surface as he prevailed in the inclement Italian conditions against Djokovic, who was irritable throughout the Briton's straight sets victory.
Victory comes just days after splitting with coach Amelie Mauresmo and caps a stunning run of form on clay, which has seen him reach the semi-final at Monte Carlo and the final in Madrid ahead of his bid to reach his first final at Roland Garros in less than a fortnight's time. Murray kept Djokovic at bay for long periods, and combined defence with attack to deadly effect with a stunning backhand pass down the line confirming the 6-3 6-3 win.
Djokovic will still take confidence from his run in Rome having seen off Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori on his route to the final yet clearly requires a spell away from the court to recuperate as he chases down his first title at the French Open - which would complete career grand slam. However it is Murray, the first British winner of the title since 1931, who carries the momentum into the second major of the season.