Once his main rival In the Rolex Paris Masters’ was eliminated (Carlos Alcaraz lost in the second-round), Novak Djokovic became odds-on favourite to win the last ATP Tour 1000 event of the season being staged at the Accord Arena in the French capital.
I think the match was closer than the scoreline indicates, but it’s another amazing win for me and I’m very proud of this one considering what I’ve been through this week. Novak Djokovic
He was tested on the way, not least by the defending champion Holger Rune of Denmark, but also Russia’s Andrey Rublev who both took him to three set matches lasting just under and just over the three-hour mark respectively.
Those matches were played with Djokovic suffering some stomach bug problem which certainly proved no hindrance in the final as he produced a clinical display to dispatch the unseeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-3 in just 98-minutes.
“Now it’s going to be recovery time definitely next three, four days, to really leave the racket aside and just spend time with the family and recharge, and then go to Torino, where every match is going to be like finals of a big tournament, because you play a top-8 player,” Djokovic said of his Turin title defence.
“I’m going there with good feelings, with a lot of confidence. You know, I haven’t lost a match since Wimbledon final, so I’m really excited to hopefully finish off the season on a high.”
Djokovic, who wants to be remembered as the greatest tennis player of all time (GOAT) when he eventually retires, has made no secret of his desire to break all the records in the tennis book.
And he is well on the way to achieving that goal with his 97th career title win to lie in third place behind Roger Federer (103) and Jimmy Connors (109) but he has already taken pole position as regards Grand Slam titles at 24 and with his latest win, improves his place at the top of the Master Title winners’ list to 40.
While the Djokovic performance was clinical, the 32-year-old Bulgarian left the arena with his held high following an excellent week in which he saw off the seeded-likes of Daniil Medvedev, Francisco Cerundolo, Hubert Hurkacz and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Dimitrov always looked strong on serve as the pair locked horns in the opening moments. The first break opportunity came up in the sevenths game which Djokovic pounced on, a point which proved to be the turning point of the set as the Serbian world No.1 went on claim the opener on his second set point.
Again, Dimitrov held his nerve in the second with the first four games going with serve only for him to be broken again in the fifth game which was enough for the title favourite to go on and claim the honours after fending off a break point at 4-3 and then breaking the Bulgarian when he was serving to stay in the final.
“It’s incredible to win it, especially after coming back from the brink of losing three matches in a row on Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” Djokovic told Amazon Prime in his on-court interview.
“Somehow, I managed to find an extra gear when it was needed, and today, we were both quite tired at the beginning and you can see we were both running out of gas a bit.
“I think the match was closer than the scoreline indicates, but it’s another amazing win for me and I’m very proud of this one considering what I’ve been through this week.”
But he didn’t forge Dimitrov, praising his week’s performance.
“I’ve been in this situation many times before, losing finals, and I’ve been blessed to win more finals than I’ve lost.
“I really hope he will continue to play at a high level because he’s playing some of his best tennis this week, and I wish him all the best. I hope he can win some big events.”
But the season isn’t over for the Serbian who was questioned about his motivation.
“My goal is to end up the season on the high note, on the highest note possible,” Djokovic answered. “The players that are not fighting for the World Tour Finals like Grigor, they have more motivation to end up this last tournament of the season on a high note, but you also have players who are very tired, and there are also players who are fighting who have a ticket for Turin.
“So, I’m one of the players who are very motivated to end up the season on a high note. With all of the emotion and the energy from the public this week in Paris, every day I find the motivation to play my best tennis in Paris, in Roland Garros or here in Bercy.
“I don’t know if that is the most accurate explanation for you, but I’m very motivated, may it be the beginning of the year and we can see it with the outcome I had in Australia, but also, I’m very motivated at the end of the year with Bercy here, and you can see the outcome here. So that’s the reason.”
His motivation can also be traced back to the record books where he lies tied at the top of the leader board with Federer on 6 wins at the ATP Finals which are due to kick-off on November 12 in Turin. There victory will also ensure he finishes the season as the World No.1 player for an 8th time.