Monte Carlo, Monaco (SportsNetwork.com) - Novak Djokovic continued his strong start to the 2015 season with a three-set victory Sunday over Tomas Berdych in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters.
Djokovic waited out a rain delay and survived a hiccup in the second set to claim a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory, earning the prestigious clay court title for a second time. He previously won the tournament in 2013, ending Rafael Nadal's eight-year reign as champion.
The top-seeded Djokovic also beat Nadal in the semifinals on Saturday and has now won 17 straight matches since a loss to Roger Federer in the Dubai final. He also became the first man to win each of the year's first three Masters titles after a sweep at Indian Wells and Miami earlier this spring.
"The fact that now I won three Masters in a row and nobody ever has done that, of course I'm aware of that," said Djokovic. "That has given me more motivation. I'm very proud of what I have achieved. It can only serve as an incentive, imperative for what's coming up."
Djokovic has lost only twice this year, falling to Ivo Karlovic in the quarterfinals of the season opener in Qatar before winning the Australian Open.
Berdych hadn't dropped a set this week en route to the final and opened the match Sunday with a break of Djokovic's serve. The Serb broke back soon after and broke again for a 5-3 lead, but Berdych immediately returned the favor for 5-4.
Djokovic, though, broke again to capture the first set and held a 3-2 lead in the second before rain interrupted play. The nearly one-hour break appeared to favor Berdych, who broke for a 4-3 lead and won four of the last five games to force a decisive third.
The world No. 1, however, opened a quick 4-0 advantage in the third with a pair of breaks and soon after wrapped up his 52nd career title. He improved to 52-23 in finals, including 4-1 this year, and notched his 23rd career Masters shield to tie Federer for second all-time, behind only Nadal's 27.
Berdych fell to 10-17 all-time in finals and also dropped to 2-19 lifetime against Djokovic. Two of those losses have come this year, as the Czech also lost a three-set semifinal in Dubai.
"I left him a big gap in the third set," said Berdych. "That was the decider, definitely. It was really just about a couple of points that didn't go my way. He defended them very well. I was making him run all the way through those three sets. There was just a couple of things that didn't go as I would like to."
Bob and Mike Bryan won the doubles crown with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 triumph over the Italian duo of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, giving the Americans their 106th career team title.