Novak Djokovic continued his dominance as he swept to the Monte Carlo Masters title. He is the first man to win the first three Masters titles of the season.
Novak Djokovic defeated Tomas Berdych to win his third Masters title of the season in Monte Carlo. In a rain-delayed match, Djokovic beat Berdych 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. The Czech stormed to a 3-1 lead in the opening set, impressing with an aggressive style.
However, unforced errors started to creep into his game and Djokovic took advantage. He won the next four games to go 5-3 before Berdych levelled it at 5-5. Djokovic broke Berdych’s serve to wrap up the first set in 53 minutes.
Djokovic led early in the second before the match was interrupted by rain for over an hour. Berdych was the quicker player after the delay, breaking for a 4-3 lead in the second set and holding his nerve to force a decider.
But he couldn’t keep up his form as Djokovic raced to a 4-0 lead in the final set. Berdych managed to stop the rot as he broke serve but it was too late. Djokovic closed out the match with a serve and Berdych drove the return wide.
“It was a tough match,” Djokovic said afterwards. “Tomas played a great match and deserves this trophy as much as I do.”
Berdych did play really great for most of the match. He just couldn’t keep it going against an in-form Novak. It has been a stellar 2015 for the World No.7, who was competing in his third final of the year.
Djokovic’s form this year has been reminiscent of 2011 when he won three Grand Slam titles and had a 41-match winning streak. Many pundits are tipping him for the French Open in June. However, the Serbian has been in top form going into the tournament before and has fallen short. Will anyone stop him this time?
Teliana Pereira won the Claro Open Colsanitas in Bogotá to become the first Brazilian woman to win a WTA title since April 1988. Pereira defeated Yaroslava Shvedova 7-6, 6-1. It was a dream week for the 26-year-old, who beat Francesca Schiavone and top seed Elina Svitolina on her way to the title.
“This has been the best week of my life,” she said. “I felt very solid all week and I’m so happy to win my first WTA title here in Bogotá.”
Neige Dias was the last Brazilian winner on the WTA tour. She won the International Championships of Spain 27 years ago. It was a double celebration for Brazilian women’s tennis as they were also victorious in the doubles. Paula Cristina Goncalves and Beatriz Haddad Maia defeated Shelby Rogers and Irina Falconi 6-3, 3-6, 10-6.
Russia and Czech Republic Reach Fed Cup Final
Russia and Czech Republic will face off in the Fed Cup final in November. Russia were 3-2 winners over last year’s finalists Germany. The reigning champions, Czech Republic, beat France 3-1.
Russia pulled off a dramatic win over Germany in Sochi. Russia gained a 2-0 lead on Saturday with wins in the singles. Svetlana Kuznetsova was a 6-4, 6-4 winner over Julia Goerges. Her compatriot, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, did not have it as easy. She battled back from a set down and saved match points against Sabine Lisicki. After two and a half hours, Pavlyuchenkova prevailed 4-6, 7-6, 6-3.
German captain, Barbara Rittner, brought in Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic for Sunday’s singles, with both players dominating in their matches.
Petkovic defeated Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-1. Kerber lost just one game in her 6-1, 6-0 victory over Pavlyuchenkova. The tie came down to the doubles match.
After the deflating losses for Russia, it looked like Germany were on their way to another final. However, it was not to be, as Elena Vesnina and Pavlyuchenkova defeated Petkovic and Lisicki 6-2, 6-3 in the deciding doubles match.
Petra Kvitova sealed the Czech Republic’s spot in the final with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Caroline Garcia on Sunday. It was a solid return for Kvitova who was out for two months due to exhaustion. She is not at her best but it was the perfect way to start back.
The two opening matches on Saturday went the Czechs’ way, with Kvitova and Lucie Safarova picking up the points. It took World No.13 Safarova nearly two hours to see off Caroline Garcia. Garcia wasted five match points in the second set, before Safarova swept her aside, winning 4-6, 7-6, 6-1. Kvitova defeated Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-4 in the following match.
Kvitova clinched their place in the final with her win on Sunday. The second singles match, Safarova vs Mladenovic, was not played. France won their only point in the doubles. Mladenovic and Pauline Parmentier defeated Safarova and Barbora Strycova 0-6, 6-3, 10-8.
It has been a good tournament for France though. In two years, they have gone from the World Group II play-offs to semi-finals. Their future is bright. For Czech Republic, it is their fourth final in five years. They will be hot favourites against Russia in November.
Nadal To Play Mercedes Cup
Rafael Nadal will begin his Wimbledon preparation at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. The tournament will make the switch from clay to grass this year.
Nadal has won twice there and will hope to be the first player to win on the new surface. U.S. Open champion, Marin Cilic, Tommy Haas and Feliciano Lopez will also play at the tournament. The Mercedes Cup will begin on June 6th.
French Open Prize Money Increases
Prize money at the French Open will rise to €28 million this year, an increase of €3 million on 2014. The men’s and women’s singles champions will receive €1.8 million and the finalists will get €900,000.
There are also increases for those who lose in the early rounds. Players who lose in the second or third rounds will see their prize money rise by 20%.
Eilís Brennan, Pundit Arena