Djokovic Wins Second Monte Carlo Title Over an Inspired Berdych

Hi folks. So today I couldn’t watch the whole final but as far as I was concerned the final had already been played. Actually today’s match turned out to be a way more competitive match than the Djokodal semi, as far as the scoreline goes anyway. The scoreline of the Djokodal match was somewhat deceiving because they always play at a very high intensity and high-quality tennis. Credit to Berdych though because from what I saw he played well and he can be a very awkward opponent.

He has also been very consistent this year and lies second in the race behind Djokovic. I think the fact that Djokovic led the head-to-head 18-2 going into this match actually counted in Berdych’s favor because the odds of getting a win over a player who has a huge lead in the head-to-head increase the bigger the lead gets. We saw what happened at the Australian Open this year when Nadal led Berdych 18-3 in the head-to-head and Berdych defeated Nadal in straight sets.

But Djokovic is just playing too well at the moment for that to happen and found a way to win.

  • Opening set

As was the case against Nadal, Djokovic dropped serve in the opening game and trailed 0-2 against an inspired Berdych. This time he didn’t break back straight away, but he did get the break in the sixth game to tie at 3-3. He then also broke in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead and serve for the set. Berdych was not gonna watch Djokovic turn things around that easily though and this time it was him who broke back and then he leveled at 5-5. Djokovic held serve and at 6-5 and 40-15 he had two set points on the Berdych serve.

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Look out Nadal, he’s coming…

Berdych saved both but on a third break point Djokovic made no mistake as he blasted a mid-court ball from Berdych down the line to force the error and take the opening set. So there were many momentum swings in the first set with a total of five breaks of serve. But by winning it Djokovic set the tone for the match and made sure that he remained the favorite for the title, despite facing an inspired Berdych.

  • Second set

Since Berdych has been in a rich vein of form this year and in Monte Carlo he wasn’t just gonna roll over and hand Djokovic the title after the opening set. He kept up his high-quality tennis and broke Djokovic in the crucial seventh game after a long baseline exchange, which consisted of Berdych moving Djokovic from corner to corner with big ground strokes and finally forcing the error after another big forehand down the line. Then at 5-4 Berdych made no mistake as he held serve to 15 to win the set.

  • The decider

So it was down to a one set shoot-out to decide who would take home the coveted 2015 Monte Carlo Masters title. As you would expect Djokovic took the initiative as he broke in the second game and never looked back to win the decider 6-3. Not that Berdych didn’t put up more stern resistance. At 1-4 and 30-30 there was another impressive point which Berdych won with an outright forehand winner. Then in the next game he set up a break point after yet another one of those impressive points which Berdych won with an outright backhand winner.

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Funny

When he hits those groundstrokes they sure stay hit. But Djokovic held on and at 5-3 and 40-15 Berdych steered a backhand return long which gave Djokovic his second Monte Carlo title and 23rd Masters title, equaling him with Roger.

  • Some closing observations

We gotta admit Djokovic is carving out a pretty impressive legacy for himself. Equaling Roger with Masters titles won is no small feat and it’s almost scary to think how many he can still win. You would think he will surpass Nadal on 27 Masters titles, even though Nadal may add a few more. Nadal is going to struggle to get by Djokovic at Masters anyway, even on clay as we saw this week. Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing the Djoker pull away from Roger in Masters titles and surpass Nadal.

Masters do not determine who is the GOAT and I don’t like the fact that Nadal racked up so many Masters on clay. As is the case in slam titles his resume is very unbalanced in Masters, because of the 27 Masters titles he won only 8 was off of clay. If there was at least one grass Masters, which there should be, he would already have won less and Roger would probably be ahead of him. So I wouldn’t mind if Djokovic surpasses Nadal in this regard as he has a more balanced Masters resume and deserves it more.

Facts are facts Nadal fans you can’t deny them. To get back to today’s match Berdych made a very respectable showing and like I said he is an awkward opponent, all be it a one-dimensional one. He puts a lot of heat on those groundstrokes and serves, and even on clay he can hit through the court quite easily. But in the end it was probably Djokovic’s unreal movement and backhand which won the day. No matter how hard Berdych hits the ball he still gets to most balls and has the control of a brain surgeon on that backhand.

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 Nothing in it here

He can turn defense into attack with it in an instant. I think it was a great final with many twists and turns and I am happy for the crowd. Berdych played as well as he could but in the end Djokovic just had that little extra which is why he is the best player in the world. It is quite astonishing how he just keeps up this unbelievable quality and like I said the only player who could play at a higher level for longer periods was the GOAT Roger Federer himself. Really it is quite impressive to see and very enjoyable at the same time.

Especially the way he beats Nadal like a drum. Now he just needs to beat him where he is the most difficult to beat, which will probably result in him completing the career slam and Nadal contemplating retirement. That is surely number one on his list of priorities now as far as carving out a legacy goes. Given what I saw from him this week I wouldn’t bet against him either. He will now take a welcome two-week break and come storming back in Madrid and Rome. He could probably win both of those too given his current form.

But tomorrow Barcelona will start where Nishikori will be back as the number one seed and defending champion, and I see Ferrer is in the bottom half of the draw with Nadal which is good to see. The week after that it is the inaugural tournament in Istanbul where Roger will be the top seed of course. Hopefully he can at least win the title there to get some momentum going on the clay. So there is a busy time ahead and I will keep you updated on the action as well as I can.

Thanks for taking part this week and helping to make this the ultimate tennis blog!

 

Ps. Forgot to add Djokovic became the first player to win the first three Masters of the season.

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Highlights:

The  is in your court.

Posted in Masters 1000, Monte Carlo.

25 Comments

  1. Congrats on your new blog Ru-an. The transition has been seamless and I absolutely enjoy your balanced and insightful comments.
    Nole seems to be more mature now and if he keeps this tempo he could easily surpass Nadal in MS1000 and H2H within next few years. Then one could make the argument that Nole is better than Nadal even though he would have less (probably) slams, similar to the arguments that Nadal fans make now for Fedal. Life is funny, isn’t it?
    Hope Roger peaks at Wimbledon and gives us another epic battle with Nole, he came so close in 2014 and I reckon this year he has the little extra to go all the way.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks! Nice to get a compliment like that. I think I am a more balanced and insightful writer now as well because it’s not all Federer Federer Federer anymore. It is indeed funny how life works. Everything seems to come full circle in the end, so we better keep that in mind.

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  2. Hi Ru-an,Very nice write up I would say.I am leaving a comment just to tell you that you are an awesome writer.
    Totally enjoy your blog!
    Keep it up!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Very nice of you to say Muhammad! I just read over my post and found a couple of stupid errors which annoyed me to no end but your comment made it all right again so thanks. I want everything to be perfect but it is almost 3 am here and when I write a post this late I do tend to make more mistakes. Should be all good now though!

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  3. Djokovic is definitely creating a niche for himself. First he becomes the first player to win the first 3 MS events of the season. Another important and key record which he has to achieve is of course win the FO. That would not just give him the career slam but also the record of winning the first 2 slams of the season. He completely deserves everything he achieves. Fedfans might think that due to all his achievements, Roger’s GOAT legacy is at stake, but that’s completely absurd. I for one don’t think he can even come close to Roger in the GOAT debate. He can possibly become an overall better player than Nadal but that’s it. I mean, there is no way Djokovic is going to catch Roger’s slam record for instance. People who bet on it gotta be senseless. How can a guy who won 8 slams in the first 10 years of his career win 9 more in the remaining 5 years(at max.) Also the no. of weeks as world No. 1. This is a tough ask as he has to stay no. 1 till May 2018. I don’t think it’s completely out of his hands but it’s the law of nature that all players start declining at a certain age. For Djokovic it might happen later than others due to his flexible body, but even if he manages to be at the top of his game for the next 3 years, it’s difficult to see him staying at the top ranking continuosly for that long period of time.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Ru-an, great article. Very detailed. I loved the final, but more because of Berdych. Unfortunately this is his third final this year I think that he lost…

    Hey Nakul, great comment. Just wanted to say that I read an article that said that actually Novak might quite benefit a lot and for a long time with Roger being a certain age, Rafa kind of declining, Andy not at his very best and the rest of the field not being that good yet. Don’t know how much that is true or will be true, but we will see. I do think Novak will surpass Rafa in Masters, but again… RG is a different thing. Too many scarves. If he doesn’t win it this year… I don’t know if he will win it in the future. Look how long it took Roger to win RG and he hasn’t been able to repeat that for 5 years…. But this year I think it will be between Roger and Novak…

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    elizabeth Reply:

    I was keeping my fingers crossed for Berdych although I wasn’t convinced he would win! However I was so glad that he played a good game and avoided the dreaded bagels. Although I would love it still can’t write off Nadal for FO. Congrats to Novak at the moment everything looks so easy definitely takes me back a few years, but he looks more determined than Roger was as they say ‘back in the day’ aaaahhhhh x

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Elizabeth, you know why I wanted Berdych to win?? Because everybody (including me to be honest !!!) thought he would get atleast one bagel. But he made it soooo close actually. It was just those points at key moments that did it to him. And in the 3rd, I don’t think Novak played that great, but he was just better than Berdych.
    Berdych is still losing a lot (and gladly to see to Roger also), but he is improving. Beating Rafa after losing to him 17 times? Are you kidding me? For that alone he deserves to win a GS :-)

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    Katyani Reply:

    Oh and Elizabeth, I don’t think this year everything looks so easy to Novak for winning. In 2011 I have to say he made winning look soooo easy, but this year…. he is winning…. but with difficulty. Look at how many finals are going to 3 or 5 sets… He is winning, but it takes a lot out of him. I don’t know, at some point even for him this has to stop right? Like after “Rafa 2013” even Rafa found beating everybody difficult. What do you think??

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    elizabeth Reply:

    Katyani the reason I’m saying that Djo makes it look easy is because when cornered he finds an escape. I know he’s been lucky at IW when Roger double faulted well the rest is history. I was delighted that Berdych made a match of it. It would take a brave person to write off Nadal at RG. But my heart belongs to Fed I was at Wim when he beat Sampras and although he won he was so upset, even that day I never imagined he would be so successful x

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    Nakul Reply:

    Thanks Katyani. I’m not sure for how long Djokovic will be able to dominate like how he’s doing right now. At one point Andy must stop losing to him right? :-) I didn’t watch the MC final but I heard that Djokovic was again cursing the crowd sometime during the second set. I assume it’s because they were cheering more for Berdych. In the third set when Djokovic held for 5-3, he asked the crowd to get behind him, just like how he did in that USO SF at 2011 after saving the first MP. His love-affair with the crowd exists almost everywhere he plays. Also, Berdych after breaking Djokvic at 4-0 in third set, did a finger wag which was very similar to what Roger did after that epic FO 2011 SF. :D
    Check out this article which analyses the MC final tactically. http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2015/04/15/Monte-Carlo-Final-Brain-Game-Djokovic-Berdych.aspx

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes Djokovic does tend to be insecure about the crowd Nakul. Probably because he had a tough upbringing which involved spending time in his basement every night during the bombing of Belgrade. Just gotta remember not everyone had as privileged an upbringing as Roger. People like me and Djokovic endured tough times which left scars, but it also made as strong. It made Djokovic strong enough to endure and dominate a monster called Nadal, someone who owns Federer with his clean upbringing.
    Nice to hear about the finger wag anyway. Just Berdych digging his own grave as usual.

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    Nakul Reply:

    Yeah Ru-an, I read your comment couple of posts back post where you mentioned how you suffered severe depression and anxiety attacks. It must have been extremely tough to get out of it and would require enormous mental strength and I hope you are doing well now. Knowing this makes me admire you even more.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thank you Nakul that’s probably the nicest compliment someone has given me on my blog. It did take enormous mental strength and sometimes I have no idea how I made it through without either being dead or insane. It is without a doubt a miracle.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Haha Nakul, I think Novak is in Andy’s head so don’t know when he will beat him :-) I cannot tell you much about the crowd and stuff, I was watching without volume, but since Novak lives in MC, I think he gets a lot of crowd support. More than anybody. Maybe even more than Roger….

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes I find it hard to see the Djoker surpass Fed too Nakul, but isn’t it amazing how it is even a possibility, all be it a very remote one? I say that because it’s crazy how players just keep coming in a very short space of time and threatening his records, given how incredible his records are. First Nadal and now Djokovic is moving closer too. I guess it just shows you what an unbelievable period of tennis we have been a part of. But who knows, maybe in a few years Coric, Kyrgios, Kokkinakis, and Thiem will come along and do the same thing. The other scary thing is that Djokovic is not just going to easily surpass Fed in masters title, but he there is also a good chance he will at least equal Fed in WTF titles. Who will beat him there in the next few years? I thought Fed’s record there would be safe for a while but looks like the Djoker will chase it down and possibly surpass.

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    Nakul Reply:

    Yeah it’s amazing how it’s a possibility. He needs to win 3 more WTF to surpass Fed but you can’t count Fed out from winning one more either. If you look at the years in which Fed has won and Djokovic has won, it’s obvious that when the courts were faster Fed won more, while Djokovic won only once in 2008. In the past 3 years courts have been slowed down like hell and it suits Djokovic the best, despite it being indoors. Who knows what could have happened if Fed played the final last year? The no. of weeks at no.1 and the no. of GS titles apart from the utter domination from 2004-2007 will most likely be matched by anyone at least in the near future. Also not to mention the record number of Wimbledon titles. If Fed wins one more there, it’s hard to not see him declared as the undisputed GOAT.

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  4. New record Novak has broken(not sure if this is adjusted for when the old points system was still in place), but at least since the rankings change Novak has the biggest lead at no.1 ever with a lead of 5460 points.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes pretty impressive Charlie. Thanks for letting us know.

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    Nakul Reply:

    According a source on FB, Fed had a 7000 point lead over Nadal in 2006.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes, If you look in my side bar where I update my fb page you will find it there.

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  5. Ru-an, have you heard of this Russian teenager, 17 year old Rublev? He defeated Verdasco in the first round of Bercelona Open in his very first ATP main draw event today. I was able to catch up the last part of the match. Despite being in extreme pain, he was able to defeat Verdasco in straight sets 7-6, 6-3 by converting his 6th match point. He looked very impressive: kept a nice demeanor, a steady head over his shoulder and cool choice of shots; looks a bit like a young Stefan Edberg.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes Jiten, I wrote about him a few posts back.

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  6. Great article. Love watching Djokovic play. So pleased for him that he’s dominating the game at the moment. Can’t wait for the French Open now. Summer’s nearly here and I can’t wait to start playing again as well. I found a site called http://www.mylocalpitch.com that makes it really easy to find places to play and book online. Anyone interested in playing should definitely check it out!

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