Andy Murray overcame world No.1 Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-3 in Rome to win the 2016 Italian Open on Sunday afternoon.
Ranked third in the world standings, the Scot came into the contest as the fresher of the two participants, having downed Lucas Pouille in just 59 minutes in Saturday's semi-final.
Murray was able to recuperate from his final-four action and watch Djokovic slog through over three hours of gruelling action as his encounter with Kei Nishikori went down to the wire.
Sunday would not only mark Murray's opportunity to secure his 12th ATP Masters 1000 title, but also his 29th birthday.
Djokovic was prepared to play the role of party pooper in the Italian capital in his quest to secure a fifth Rome Masters crown following his title successes in 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2015.
However, it was Murray who started the brighter of the two, as he earned three break opportunities in his opponents' first service game. The Serb denied each opportunity but would not be as fortunate two games later, as Murray grabbed the first break of the match at 3-1 with a rifled forehand to backcourt to force a backhand error.
The Glasgow-born right-hander would go on to take 16 of his first 19 service points to take the opening set of the match 6-3.
Murray’s feathers were up heading into the second set, knowing the usually ever-reliable Djokovic was failing to acclimatise to his usual standards in the final, twinned with his own strong start to the match.
After dropping the opening set, the Serbian 28-year-old’s shot selection turned to attack mode, with added risk and less margin for error in his replies. It paid off immediately for Djokovic as he earned his first break point in the second service of the set at 0-1, 30-40.
However, Murray would refuse to allow the pendulum of momentum swing in the favour of the 11-time Grand Slam champion and swatted away two further attempts to break at 1-2. The big-hitter did so by introducing a classic but effective serve-and-volley method.
Murray continued his fine form from the baseline in the second chapter of the match and secured a pivotal break to secure a 3-2 lead in spite of light rain falling on the court - to the annoyance of his rival.
The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg sensed that Murray was preying on the psychological weaknesses of Djokovic in the second set:
Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg
Murray leaps into backhand return, breaks Djokovic for 6-3, *3-2. Djokovic not at his best and Murray has sensed the blood sharktastically.2016-5-15 16:33:29
The 2013 Wimbledon champion held from 30-15 down to put himself within one game of the title and looked in complete control when Djokovic double-faulted to hand Murray two match-points at 5-3.
LiveTennis captured the moment Murray secured the title with a crashing backhand:
ATPWorldTour confirmed the world No.3 as champion:
ATP World Tour @ATPWorldTour
He's done it! @andy_murray wins @InteBNLdItalia v. #Djokovic. Read: https://t.co/vU9WB6hi4L #ATPMasters1000 https://t.co/h9AfkFsBoj2016-5-15 16:52:13
While Ladbrokes detailed the magnitude of Murray's success on Sunday:
Andy Murray is the first British winner of the #RomeMasters since 1931, beating Djokovic on his birthday https://t.co/FDZBE54q8M2016-5-15 16:51:56
Murray made sure of victory with a devastating backhand winner in the very next point to secure the trophy and lift his second Masters 1000 title on clay.
The birthday boy was in celebratory mood after lifting the trophy following his straight-sets victory but still found time to pay tribute to his opponent.
Djokovic was forced into a lengthy semi-final clash less than 24 hours earlier against Nishikori, and the title winner said he understood the complications that could be caused.
Per Kevin Mitchell of the Guardian, he said: "It’s hard coming back from a long match the night before. And he fought hard all the way to the end."
Meanwhile Djokovic—the winner of four out of the last five Grand Slam titles—praised the performance of Murray, claiming he had no response to his display.
Per Mitchell, he said: "Well done, Andy. You did a great job today. You were too good, just too good."