Novak Djokovic improved his chances of winning the French Open next week by winning his first title of the year at the Italian Open in Rome.
Djokovic won the clay-court title after defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0 7-6 (7-5).
The Serb, 34, dominated the opening set before rallying after the Greek seized a 4-1 lead in the second.
At the French Open, which begins next Sunday in Paris, Djokovic will be one of the favourites to win a record-tying 21st Grand Slam.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better run-up to Roland Garros,” Djokovic remarked.
“I’m heading to Paris with optimism and excitement about my chances.”
Djokovic appears to be regaining form after a rocky start to the year that saw him ejected from Australia due to his immunisation status, followed by early exits in successive tournaments.
He won his sixth title in Rome, and a record-extending 38th triumph in a Masters event, by defeating Tsitsipas in the final on Sunday. He went through the tournament without dropping a set.
With a first-round elimination in Monte Carlo, he got off to a slow start on the clay, but he picked up speed with a semi-final in Madrid and now the Rome title in the final major tournament before Roland Garros.
Djokovic’s primary opponent at Roland Garros might be 19-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who has risen to sixth in the rankings after winning clay-court titles in Madrid and Barcelona.
“It was crucial for me to win a huge championship after everything that transpired at the start of the year, especially with Grand Slams coming up when I clearly want to play my best,” Djokovic continued.
“Everything I was feeling in the first few months of the year, as much as I’d felt pressure in my life and profession before, that was something completely different.”
“However, I believe it is already behind me.” On the court, I’m in terrific shape. Also, mentally. I’m fresh. I’m keen.”
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