Novak Djokovic took a swipe at all the talk about the younger generation of tennis players, saying rival Rafael Nadal and himself were the 'Next Gen.'
The pair clashed for the 57th time in the Italian Open final yesterday, with Nadal winning 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 in two hours, 49 minutes to claim the title for a record 10th time.
"The Next Gen young people? Me, Rafa and Roger [Federer] are reinventing the Next Gen. We are the Next Gen," world No 1 Djokovic said.
By winning, second seed Nadal matched Djokovic's record of 36 Masters 1000 titles and lay down a key marker two weeks out from the defense of his French Open crown.
Both Nadal, 34, and 33-year-old Djokovic had ousted the last two 'Next Gen' trophy winners in Rome - Italian Jannik Sinner, 19, and Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas, 22, respectively.
Nadal, who shares the record of 20 Majors with Federer, also saved two match points to defeat Canada's Denis Shapovalov, 22, and gained revenge on his Madrid Masters conqueror Alexander Zverev, 24.
"Of course the Next Gen is there. But here we are still winning the biggest tournaments and Slams," Djokovic said.
"I'm not focused on the Next Gen even though people like to talk about it. Fine. The guys are there. They are already establishing themselves in the top 5, top 10. Nothing new. But we are still there."
Meanwhile, French Open champion Iga Swiatek crushed Czech ninth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0 to win her first Masters 1000 trophy at the Foro Italico.
"I'm overwhelmed," said the 19-year-old Pole, who broke into the top 10 in the world as a result of her run in Rome.