Novak Djokovic admitted he needed to produce his best clay-court tennis to end Rafael Nadal's eight-year dominance at the Monte Carlo Masters.
The Serbian underlined his status as world No 1 with a clinical 6-2 7-6 victory in the final on Sunday, ending Nadal's mammoth 46-match unbeaten run at the Masters 1000 event.
And Djokovic, twice a runner-up at the event in 2009 and 2012, has taken extra satisfaction from his maiden title given the fact that an ankle injury marred his preparations for the event.
"I cannot be happier than I am at this moment, knowing what I've been through the whole week ... trying to recover and make my decision to play," he told a news conference afterwards.
"If somebody had told me 10 days ago that I'd be winning the trophy, I wouldn't have though it was realistic."
The Serbian, who had said he would need to be at his very best to have any chance of recording a third clay-court final victory over Nadal, sailed through the opening set before showing all his mental toughness to prevail in a second set tie-breaker
"The first six, seven or eight games were unbelievable. It's the best I can play on clay - well, it's the only way you can win against Rafa" he added.
"I knew after yesterday's match (a semi-final win over Fabio Fognini) that I had a feeling that I had a big chance to win against Rafa if I was on the top of my game."