Of all the 32 victories accumulated by winning machine Novak Djokovic since the start of the year, his straight sets defeat of Rafa Nadal in the final of the Madrid Masters was the most telling of all.
Logic had it that the Serb's magnificent unbeaten start to 2011 would hit the wall against the world number one on the Madrid brick dust as Nadal flexed his muscles for the looming French Open -- the grand slam he wins almost by default.
The 23-year-old Djokovic never wavered from his objective and finished a resounding 7-5 6-4 victor.
Should he win the title in Rome and Nadal suffers defeat before the semifinals, he will wake up next Monday as world number one and break the domination of top spot by Nadal and Roger Federer stretching back to 2004.
Rome: American Andy Roddick's miserable season on clay continued on Monday when he was knocked out in the Rome Masters first round 6-3 6-3 by Frenchman Gilles Simon.
The 12th seed, who lost to qualifier Flavio Cipolla in the opening round in Madrid last week, never looked comfortable on the red clay who cruised to victory after an early break.