In the first decade of the Masters 1000 series, it was almost impossible to claim the title at the premium ATP level after turning 30! Mikael Pernfors (Canada 1993) and Cedric Pioline (Monte Carlo 2000) were the only players to achieve that before Andre Agassi, the great American who experienced a second youth after the 30th birthday and claimed seven Masters 1000 crowns in that period between Indian Wells 2001 and Cincinnati 2004.
Since 2010, Ivan Ljubicic, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Rafael Nadal, John Isner, Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini have joined the list, forging ten players who have managed to accomplish this feat. Roger Federer leads the charts with 11 Masters 1000 crowns after turning 30, followed by Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal who stand on seven.
On Monday, Novak Djokovic became the fourth player with six Masters 1000 shields in his 30s, conquering Rome for the fifth time and adding the second title of this level of the season after Cincinnati. Novak became the oldest Rome champion, digging deep in most of his matches at Foro Italico but emerging at the top for the record-breaking 36th Masters 1000 title.
In the final, Djokovic defeated Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3, overcoming a slow start to overpower the Argentine and lift the trophy. The first-time Masters 1000 finalist Schwartzman showed no signs of nerves in the opening three games, dominating under light rain and opening a 3-0 advantage with a double break in the most important match of his career.
Novak started to find his strokes in the fourth game, securing a break after Schwartzman’s double fault to get his name on the scoreboard and gain momentum. Attacking with more accuracy and depth, the Serb held at 15 with an ace, producing another break to level the score at 3-3.
Djokovic held at 15 in game seven, rattling off 16 of the previous 21 points to move in front for the first time and gain control.
Novak Djokovic became the fourth player with six Masters 1000 titles in 30s.
Diego fired a perfect forehand down the line winner at 30-15 in the next one, sealing it with a service winner for 4-4, ready to challenge a great rival in the crucial opening set.
Djokovic fended off a critical break point in game nine with a volley winner, landing another for a massive hold and a 5-4 advantage. Serving to stay in the set, Schwartzman erased a set point with a brave forehand winner, bringing the game home after two deuces and a backhand down the line winner to produce more drama at 5-5.
Novak held after deuce to open a 6-5 gap, forcing the rival to serve for staying in the set again. Giving his best to seal the set before the tie break, Djokovic converted the fourth set point for 7-5 after 70 minutes, gaining a massive boost ahead of set number two, never losing the Masters 1000 final after winning the opener.
Starting all over, Diego kicked off the second set with a break at 15, ready to leave everything on the court. Bouncing back immediately, Djokovic leveled the score at 1-1 when Schwartzman’s forehand landed wide, placing a winner at the net for a commanding hold in game three.
The Argentine fired four winners in the next one to remain in touch, squandering two break chances in the fifth game that would cost him dearly in the end. Diego held with a steady drop shot a few minutes later before Djokovic opened a 4-3 lead, setting eyes on the finish line.
Cracking under pressure, Schwartzman sprayed mistakes in game eight to get broken at love following a backhand down the line winner from Djokovic, who held at 30 to seal the deal and celebrate the 36th Masters 1000 crown.