As expected Novak Djokovic claimed his second Monte Carlo Rolex Masters ATP 1000 title at the scenic surroundings of the Monte Carlo Country Club on Sunday as he overcame an hour long rain delay in the second set to beat the challenge of Tomas Berdych 7-5,4-6,6-3. He also becomes the only player in the history of the game to claim the first three Masters 1000 titles having earlier claimed the Indian Wells-Miami double for an unprecedented third time. It ties him with Roger Federer in second place with 23 ATP Masters Super Series titles, behind the all time leader Rafael Nadal who has 27 titles.
The top seeded Serb continued his dominance of the Czech taking his head to head record to 19-2 and is now on a 17 match winning streak with a 30-2 mark in 2015. Berdych lost his third final of the year following losses at Doha (loss to Ferrer) and in Rotterdam (loss to Wawrinka). He drops to 27-7 for the year but climbs to no. 7 in the rankings above Ferrer. A win would have lifted him to a career high no. 4 in the rankings. Djokovic leads Federer by more than 5000 points in the ATP rankings.
Just like the semi-final against Nadal, Djokovic dropped his opening service game in the first set but evened up the proceedings by breaking back in the sixth game and even went on to break the tall Czech’s serve in the eighth game. He failed to serve out the set at 5-3 but would eventually win the 53 minute long first set at 7-5 on his third opportunity. The match was halted by rain for nearly an hour with Djokovic leading 3-2 on serve in the second set, however Berdych was the first to strike on resumption as he broke for a 4-3 lead in the 7th game. He would go on to force a decider by winning the second set 6-4. The match seemed to be drifting away from Berdych as he fell behind 0-4 in the decider, but he would get one service break back and even had his chances to get it back on serve. Djokovic survived the mini crisis and closed out the match in the ninth game holding his service at 15. The match lasted 2 hours 43 minutes with the scoreline 7-5,4-6,6-3 in Djokovic’s favour. Berdych served only 46% first serves and until Djokovic won on match point both players were tied at 89 points apiece for the match.
Djokovic claimed his 52nd career title and now only needs to win the French Open to complete the career slam and needs only to win the Cincinnati Masters 1000 event to become the only player in the history of the game to win all nine Super Series events. Breakdown of Djokovic’s 23 ATP 1000 titles is 5 Miami, 4 Indian Wells, thrice at Paris, Rome and Canada, twice each at Monte Carlo and Shanghai and once in Madrid. Apart from winning 5 Australians, two Wimbledon and one US Open he also has 4 season ending ATP finals. Berdych meanwhile lost his third straight Masters final, having lost the previous two to Roddick (Miami 2010) and Federer (Madrid 2012), with his only win coming at the BNP Paribas Indoors in Paris in the year 2005 when he beat Ivan Ljubicic in the finals.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]