Djokovic Downs Dimitrov In Paris For 40th Masters 1000 Crown
After a trio of three-set battles to reach the final at the Rolex Paris Masters, Novak Djokovic carved a more straightforward path to victory Sunday when he eased past Grigor Dimitrov to claim a record-extending seventh title at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
Djokovic delivered a typically resilient all-around performance to clinch a 6-4, 6-3 triumph and become the first player to win 40 Masters 1000 crowns. The Serbian’s consistency from the baseline gave Dimitrov few opportunities to rouse the level he had shown en route to the championship match, and a single break in each set was enough for Djokovic to wrap a 98-minute victory.
“[It’s] incredible. To be able to win it after quite challenging circumstances for me this week,” said Djokovic. “Basically, coming back from the brink of losing three matches in a row, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I was very close to losing those matches and somehow managed to find an extra gear when it was needed.
“Today, I think we both were quite tight at the beginning, and I could see that he was running out of gas a little bit. Myself as well, but I somehow managed to find an extra shot over the net. I think the match was closer than the scoreline indicates, but another amazing win for me. I’m very proud of this one, considering what I’ve been through this week.”
The win means World No. 1 Djokovic will now head to the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals on an 18-match winning streak, dating back to his Wimbledon final defeat to Carlos Alcaraz. By lifting the Paris trophy, Djokovic extended his lead over the Spaniard in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin to 1490 points, making it highly likely he will claim the ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone honour for a record-extending eighth time.
A tearful Dimitrov could not initially hide his disappointment after just falling short of his second Masters 1000 crown, and his first tour-level title since the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals. Djokovic took time to console the Bulgarian in his chair.
“I’ve been in these situations before many times, losing finals," said Djokovic, when asked what he had said to the Bulgarian. "I’ve of course been blessed to win more finals than I’ve lost, and I really hope that he will 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.”
Dimitrov later reflected positively on his thrilling run to the final during the trophy ceremony: "I just wanted to say how grateful I am for this amazing week. It's been such a rollercoaster the past three months for me. Getting to the final of this tournament means so much more than you guys can imagine. But also, it would not have been possible without you throughout the week [and your] support."
After sealing his 10th straight tour-level win against Dimitrov, Djokovic now leads the Bulgarian 12-1 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series. Although the Bulgarian entered the match having played some of the best tennis of his career this week to down seeded opponents Daniil Medvedev, Hubert Hurkacz and Stefanos Tsitsipas, he never looked like reproducing those heroics in Sunday’s final.
Djokovic pulled away from the Bulgarian following a cagey start to take the first set inside Accor Arena. The Serbian won 88 per cent (15/17) of points behind his first serve in a largely solid first-set display, and that dominance behind his delivery allowed Djokovic to hit freely on return. He clinched a decisive break in the seventh game as Dimitrov, who made a costly 19 unforced errors in the set, struggled to match the 36-year-old’s consistency from the baseline.
Although Dimitrov had forced Djokovic to Deuce in the final game of the first set, that was as close as the Bulgarian came to a breakthrough on return. Djokovic struck a decisive blow when he converted his first break point of the second set to move 3-2 ahead, and the Serbian did not flinch as he secured his 50th career win in Paris-Bercy having hit 15 winners, including six aces.