Djokovic serves up a surprise
Novak Djokovic admitted he wasn't sure he'd be able to make the final of the Monte Carlo Masters after the super Serb put his grandfather's death to one side to dispatch Tomas Berdych.
The world No.1, who was runner-up at the event to Rafael Nadal in 2009, battled back from a set down to eventually triumph 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in windy conditions that disrupted both players on their serves.
Only two days after learning his grandfather had passed away, Djokovic pointed to the sky for several seconds after his hard-fought victory and will now face seven-time defending champion Nadal in today’s final - the Spaniard seeing off Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-4.
“Under the circumstances I didn’t know if I could reach the final this week,” Djokovic said. “I’ll always give my best and I’m always believing I can win every match I play.
“It was quite a match,” he added. “There were lots of unforced errors in really, really difficult conditions. The wind was blowing very hard, changing directions all the time.
“We had a lot of double-faults. Tomas tosses very high on serve which didn’t help and I didn’t serve so well either. It was a matter of who would be better-positioned on court and who got luckier. I was that player in the end.”
Berdych had sent world No.4 Andy Murray scampering to all parts of the court in Friday’s quarter-final, and Djokovic felt the full weight of his opponent’s forehand in the first set as the Czech reeled off four consecutive games to fight back from 4-2 down.
A clearly agitated Djokovic started to mumble to himself again at deuce in the first game at the start of the second set, but saved a break point and then broke Berdych after a fine lob and a flurry of volleys at the net.
As the set wore on, Berdych - who was taken to three sets by Murray and also by Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the third round - began to tire.
Djokovic levelled the match and then cruised through the third, at one point going 4-0 up after yet another Berdych double-fault as the sixth seed finally ran out of steam.