Nadal beats Djokovic – USA’s back in the World Group

Rafael Nadal continues to prove his dominance on clay, with a Sunday win over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo final – winning convincingly 6-3, 6-1. That is Rafa’s eighth consecutive win at the Masters event (he’s 42-0 over the past eight years), and his first title over Djokovic in seven tries. It is Nadal’s 47th career title and his first since last year’s French Open. Head to head, Nadal still leads the series 17-14 – though Novak has beaten Rafa in three consecutive Grand Slam finals.

Djokovic showed impressive mental stamina during the tournament, after learning that his grandfather had passed away on Thursday. He received the news on the practice court, shortly before his match with Alexandr Dolgopolov. He then went on to defeat Robin Haase and Tomas Berdych to reach the final, but missed his greandfather’s funeral on Saturday.

Congrats to Bob and Mike Bryan – they won the doubles title Sunday over Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor in straight sets.

In Fed Cup play over the weekend, Serbia (Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic) and the Czech Republic (Petra Kvitova) advanced to the World Group Final. They’ll play in the Czech Republic November 3rd and 4th.

In the World Group Playoffs, Team USA secured their spot in the 2013 World Group with a 5-0 shut out of the Ukraine. Serena Williams easily won her two singles matches, Christina McHale won both of hers, and Liezel Huber and Sloane Stephens were victorious in the final doubles match.

Next year, the Czech Republic will come-in as the #1 seed, followed by Serbia, Italy and Russia. Rounding out the World Group: Australia, Japan, Slovak Republic and the U.S.

By playing both Fed Cup Ties for Mary Jo Fernandez this year, count on Serena Williams playing at the All England Club during the 2012 London Games July 28th – August 5th…shortly after Wimbledon, and just a few weeks before the U.S. Open in New York.

With the French Open a little over a month away, clay tune-ups continue this week in Barcelona and Romania (ATP), and Morocco and Germany (WTA).

Here’s how the top-10 rankings look this week:

1  – Novak Djokovic
2  – Rafael Nadal
3  – Roger Federer
4  – Andy Murray
5  – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
6  – David Ferrer
7  – Tomas Berdych
8  – Janko Tipsarevic
9  – Mardy Fish
10  – Juan Martin del Potro
(11)  – John Isner

1  – Victoria Azarenka
2  – Maria Sharapova
3  – Petra Kvitova
4  – Agnieszka Radwanska
5  – Samantha Stosur
6  – Caroline Wozniacki
7  – Marion Bartoli
8  – Na Li
9  – Serena Williams
10  – Vera Zvonareva