Novak Djokovic defeats Tomas Berdych to claim Monte Carlo Masters title
Last Updated: 19/04/15 6:32pm
World No 1 Novak Djokovic became the first man to win the first three Masters 1000 titles of the season after edging Tomas Berdych 7-5 4-6 6-3 in Monte Carlo.
Djokovic, who has lost only two matches in 2015, outlasted the Czech sixth seed in a final delayed by light rain to secure his fourth tournament win of the year
The 27-year-old Serb broke early in the deciding set to take control and then held serve throughout the frame to inflict yet another defeat on Berdych in a championship decider.
Djokovic opened his 2015 account by winning his fifth Australian Open before following up with Masters victories at Indian Wells and Miami and also marked a fourth straight Masters 1000 title after also winning at Paris Bercy last November.
With his 23rd Masters title, Djokovic extended his winning streak to 17 matches while Berdych, who lost his third final of the season, has yet to win a Masters title since Paris in 2005.
"It was a tough match, a particular match," 2013 Monte Carlo winner Djokovic said of a somewhat frustrating win, where he struck 38 unforced errors, lost his first set of the week and converted on only five of 14 break points.
"Tomas played a great match and deserves this trophy as much as I do. It was a good final, but bad luck today."
Berdych was no pushover in the final of the first tournament of the European claycourt season, which will culminate at Roland Garros from May 24-June 7.
Coming into the match with a 2-18 win-loss record against Djokovic, Berdych had little to lose and he started brightly, stealing the Serbian's serve in the first game with a nice backhand winner down the line, allowing his opponent only two points in the first two games.
But the Czech started to make unforced errors and in no time the reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion had moved from 3-1 down to 5-3 up.
Berdych kept battling and levelled for 5-5 after reeling off six points in a row in a see-saw contest on a damp day in the Principality.
The top seed found his rhythm, which was too much to handle for Berdych, who saved two set points before cracking on the third, sending a backhand into the net after Djokovic had sent him chase the ball in every corner of the court.
Berdych had his chance in the fifth game of the second set as he set up three break points but he wasted two of them with unforced errors and Djokovic saved the third with a service winner.
He won that game and the match was interrupted by rain for about 70 minutes.
Berdych broke for 4-3 on his third opportunity after putting Djokovic on the back foot and he took the set after winning 15 of 19 points on his first serve.
His form then nosedived as the world No 1 raced to a 4-0 lead in the decider, but Berdych then clawed back one of breaks and even had another chance to break in the seventh game.
But once again, the Czech made unforced errors and was powerless to stop eight-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic from closing it out on his serve.
Djokovic now owns 52 career titles and 23 at the elite Masters level. He stands 30-2 this season while Berdych missed a chance to move up to a career-best number four in the world.
"What can I say," said the Czech. "Novak had another excellent week, I tried my best but it was not good enough today.
"I'm missing that one step in my clay game but I'm going to work to raise my game that little bit. I'll do what I can to make that happen and hope to come back next year and go a step further."
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