Novak Djokovic continued his recent domination over world number one Rafael Nadal ahead of the French Open by claiming the Rome Masters crown 6-4 6-4, stretching his unbeaten run this year to 37 matches.
The Serb, who defeated Nadal for the first time on clay in the the Madrid Open final last weekend, won his seventh consecutive title by flattening the five-times champion on the bigger points in another brutal duel.
After a rain-delayed start had given him a few extra hours to recover from Saturday's draining three-hour semi-final win over Andy Murray, Djokovic broke the Nadal serve in the eighth game.
He faltered on his first attempt to serve out the set but broke Nadal again with a brilliant backhand crosscourt winner to take the set.
An anxious-looking Nadal fought back from 2-0 down in a fluctuating second set before Djokovic underlined his mental toughness, forcing the Spaniard into errors to break in the ninth game.
Djokovic saw his first three match points go begging -- thanks to two backhand errors from the Serb and an un-returnable serve from Nadal -- but he made no mistake on the fourth.
After whipping a forehand over the net, Djokovic saw a charging Nadal roll the ball into the net and then he promptly collapsed on to his back and let out an almighty roar to celebrate his victory, which moves the world number two ever closer to claiming the title as the worlds best tennis player.