Novak Djokovic cruised to a record-extending seventh Paris Masters title, and became the first player to claim 40 Masters ATP 1000 titles, after beating Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-3 in the final on Sunday.
The world No 1’s sixth trophy this season helped him to extend his lead over the second-ranked Carlos Alcaraz in the race to the year-end top spot. Djokovic will now head to the ATP Finals in Turin, primed to seal the deal after emerging triumphant from a series of close matches this week.
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“It’s incredible to be able to win after quite challenging circumstances for me this week,” Djokovic said. “Coming back from the brink of losing three matches in a row on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.” The 24-times grand slam winner needed three sets to beat Tallon Griekspoor, Holger Rune and Andrey Rublev en route to the final.
“I was close to losing those matches and somehow managed to find an extra gear when it was needed,” Djokovic said. “Today, we both were quite tight at the beginning, and I could see he was running out of gas a little bit. The match was closer than the scoreline indicates but another amazing win. I’m very proud of this one.”
In a clash featuring the two oldest players in the world’s top 20, the 36-year-old Djokovic drew first blood, breaking the 17th-ranked Dimitrov for a 4-3 lead in the opening set, before closing it out comfortably in 51 minutes.
Grigor Dimitrov’s unexpected run to the final ended in bitter disappointment. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA
The unseeded Dimitrov’s only victory over Djokovic in 12 previous meetings came a decade ago and although the 32-year-old put up more of a fight in the second set, he could not prevent Djokovic from taking his 40th career Masters crown, which puts him four ahead of his nearest rival, Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic’s winning run now extends to 18 matches – he has not lost since the Wimbledon final defeat to Alcaraz in July. He will be the hot favourite for the ATP Finals, which will also feature Alcaraz, Rune, Rublev, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner and Alexander Zverev.
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Dimitrov, meanwhile, was left sobbing into his towel after missing the opportunity to claim his first title in six years. “I’ve been in these situations before many times, losing finals,” said Djokovic, who stopped his on-court interview to give his beaten opponent a hug.
“I’ve been blessed to win more finals than I’ve lost. I really hope he’ll continue to play at a high level. He’s been playing some of his best tennis this week and I wish him all the best. I hope he can win big events.”