TENNIS NEWS - Novak Djokovic said his impressive burst of form which won him a third Madrid Open title and 33rd Masters could prove decisive in his assault on the French Open.
The world number one joined Rafael Nadal on top of the all-time Masters list when he swept to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's final in the Spanish capital.
"At this very important time for me in the season, the win gives me a lot of confidence prior to Rome and, of course, Roland Garros where I definitely want to play my best," said the 15-time major winner.
Djokovic dominated a clearly exhausted Tsitsipas less than 24 hours after the 20-year-old Greek had stunned five-time champion Nadal in a semi-final which ended around midnight on Saturday.
Djokovic and Nadal will now attempt to claim a 34th Masters title in Rome this week in a key indicator ahead of Roland Garros which gets under way on May 26.
Djokovic credits a keys wins in Madrid with helping him to his first final since winning the Australian Open three months ago.
He will be bidding to collect his fourth consecutive title at a Grand Slam when he plays in Paris where he was also champion in 2016.
"This win was very important for my level of confidence because after the Australian Open I wasn't playing my best," he said.
"I wasn't finding the right game and the consistency on the court in Indian Wells, Miami and Monte-Carlo.
"I felt like I was close and needed a little bit of a push, which came yesterday against Dominic Thiem in the semi-final in a very close match."
Djokovic never let Tsitsipas get into gear in a final which lasted just over 90 minutes
The Greek, who beat Djokovic in their previous meeting last summer in Canada, was broken once in each set, enough of a margin for the top seed to take the trophy, his second of the season after the Australian Open.
The Serb still needed four match points to get the job done with Tsitsipas finally beaten when Djokovic sent a winning volley into the corner.
"He has the best backhand that I have ever seen in a human being," said Tsitsipas of his opponent.
"He controls it so well. He can play cross, he can play down the line the same way. And that's very difficult to deal with.
"He deserved the victory, he played unbelievable. I couldn't do much."
Tsitsipas was playing his second Masters 1000 final after losing to Nadal in Toronto last August.