Novak Djokovic set another career record on Sunday with his second Monte Carlo title, as the Serb became the first man to win the opening three Masters 1000 events in a season through a three-set defeat of Tomas Berdych in the final.
The top seed, who lives just a few hundred metres away from the centre court, had to survive a comeback from his Czech rival as well as a 70-minute rain interruption which came as he led by a set and 3-2 on serve in the second.
Djokovic’s 7-5 4-6 6-3 victory was his 17th straight win of the season and also marked a fourth consecutive Masters 1000 title after also winning at Paris Bercy last November.
“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 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.”
Djokovic owns 52 career titles and 23 at the elite Masters level. He stands 19-2 over Berdych and 30-2 this season.
Berdych missed a chance to move up to a career-best No.4 in the world rankings.
“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”.”
Djokovic won the opening set comfortably but was unable to come back after the rain break and close it out in straight sets.
Berdych gained the early momentum upon the return and levelled at a set each.
In the third, Djokovic again seized the initiative, going up two breaks only to lose one of them.
Berdych saved a match point, holding for 3-5 with an overhead winner. But Djokovic prevailed a game later as the Czech’s service return sailed just long over the baseline.