Novak Djokovic defeated Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych 7-5 4-6 6-3 to claim the Monte Carlo Open on Sunday.
The win means the top seed becomes the first man to win the opening three Masters events of the season after victories in Indian Wells and Miami last month. He is now level on 23 title with Roger Federer.
“The fact that now I have won three Masters in a row, that nobody ever has done that- that has given me, even this week, more motivation,” Djokovic said.
The 27-year-old reached the Rome final having dropped just 18 games in four matches, including a quarter-final success against US Open champion Marin Cilic and victory over nine-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal in the semi-final.
Berdych-Djokovic’s 2-18 career head-to-head record impacted little on early play as the World No. 8 got off to a perfect start, offering two breaks of serve which were immediately snuffed off by the latter.
Djokovic soon turned defense into attack and broke to serve for the set at 5-3, finishing it off on his second attempt.
The Australian Open champion struggled early into the second set with a trio of errors to trail 0-40, but saved the break and recovered at 2-2 before it began chucking it down, forcing both players to run for cover from the melting clouds.
The Serb let another chance to break slip off his erroneous hands- including a double fault- as Berdych took the set 6-4, with eight points from 12 net points.
The 2014 winner raced into a 4-0 lead in the decider while Berdych fluffed his first serve after offering the world No. 1 three straight errors. Berdych broke back again but Djokovic closed out the match after two hours and 43 minutes.
“In the end, I’m sitting here with the trophy that is very special to me,” he said. “That is what matters. Sometimes winning ugly is necessary. It’s been a remarkable start of the season for me.”