Djokovic overpowers Tsitsipas for first clay title in three years

AFP

Novak Djokovic claimed his first clay-court title since the 2016 French Open by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 6-4 in the Madrid Open final on Sunday.

World number one Djokovic lifted the trophy on Manolo Santana for the third time in his career, moving level with 'King of Clay' Rafael Nadal – who Tsitsipas stunned in the semi-finals – on a record 33 ATP Masters 1000 triumphs.

The Serbian felt he played his "best match" on the red dirt this year by overcoming the in-form Dominic Thiem in the final four and eighth seed Tsitsipas was unable to halt his march to glory, failing to force a single break point.

Djokovic will be hoping to take momentum into the Internazionali d'Italia and then Roland Garros, where he completed his career Grand Slam three years ago and will be aiming to hold all four majors simultaneously for the second time in his career.

Tsitsipas lacked consistency in his groundstrokes during the early exchanges and followed a brilliant cross-court forehand with a wide shot down the line to surrender his opening service game.

Djokovic forced Tsitsipas to play on the back foot and looked sure to secure a second break after taking the first two points in game six, but the Greek responded brilliantly and held when he chased down the world number one's drop shot and sent it back over the net at an acute angle.

The Serbian served out the set and had two break-point opportunities at 1-1 in the second, though he was unable to take either and lost the game when a cross-court backhand as Tsitsipas rushed the net landed in the tram lines.

Tsitsipas displayed great character to keep things tight and make the top seed work, but Djokovic broke his resistance at 4-4 with a tremendous backhand down the line off the 20-year-old's smash from the baseline, followed by an errant forehand from the Greek.

That gave Djokovic an opportunity to serve out the match and, to conclude an intense final game, he handed Tsitsipas his second ATP Masters 1000 final defeat in as many appearances by stepping in and sweeping a forehand into the corner on his fourth match point.