40 Masters 1000 titles on the ATP Tour is just the latest accomplishment that Novak Djokovic has added his continued attack on the record books of professional tennis. The World No. 1 refused to go down en route to his seventh title at the Paris Masters, defeating a resurgent Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-3.
Playing in his first event since triumphing at the US Open in September, Djokovic survived a couple of grueling matches in the quarter-finals and semifinals where he defeated Holger Rune 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-4 and then Andrey Rublev 5-7, 7-6(3), 7-5. The Serbian is currently on an 18-match win streak going back to his loss in the finals of Wimbledon in July at the hands of Carlos Alcaraz.
Djokovic admitted after the victory that he is comfortable revealing that he wants to break as many records as he can in the sport and with the way he continues to play at 36 years old, there’s no reason to believe he will stop doing so anytime soon.
In terms of overall Masters 1000 titles among active players, Djokovic leads Rafael Nadal now by four and Andy Murray by twenty-three. He has twelve more than the retired Roger Federer as well.
While the grueling tennis season is now approaching the finish line, Djokovic is still looking at what he can accomplish before things wrap-up in Turin. He has his sights set on two items in particular as he shared in his post-tournament press conference in Paris.
“I'm going [to Turin] with good feelings, with a lot of confidence. You know, I haven't lost a match since the Wimbledon final, so I'm really excited to hopefully finish off the season on a high. But yeah, clinching the year No. 1 and Davis Cup are the two biggest goals.”
For Dimitrov, reaching the finals in Paris is a testament to his never-ending belief that he could once again attain the upper levels of the ATP Tour. Seeking his first ATP title in six years, Dimitrov couldn’t push Djokovic in the championship match, but came up big on his way there by defeating quality opponents such as Daniil Medvedev, Hubert Hurkacz and Stefanos Tsitsipas, all in closely contested three-set matches.
Dimitrov reflected after his tournament on the emotions he felt at the conclusion of his match against Djokovic.
“It's difficult to explain emotions, I think. You want it. You know, it's tough when it doesn't happen. Only I know, in a way, without feeling sorry for myself, what I've gone through the past months on and off the court. Those are happy tears. I don't want to have them as something negative. I'm human, after all.”
Rest of the Field
Strong tournaments were enjoyed in Paris by fifth seed Andrey Rublev and seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who both made it to the final four. Rublev has been on a solid run lately that has helped him qualify for his fourth season-ending Nitto ATP Finals. Recently he made the finals in Shanghai and the semifinals in Vienna. For his part, Tsitsipas has also qualified for the year-end finals with recent back-to-back semifinal results before equaling that in Paris.
Another player who should be satisfied with his recent play is 20-year-old Holger Rune who seems to be back on track after joining forces with former six-time Slam champion Boris Becker as his new coach. Rune struggled mightily through the summer that saw him go 0-3 in Toronto, Cincinnati and at the US Open. He’s now made the semifinals in Basel and the quarter-finals in Paris where he pushed Djokovic to three sets.
Surprising results in Paris included the early defeat of No. 2 seed Carlos Alcaraz in his tournament opener to the tricky Roman Safiullin as well as an early loss for No. 3 seed Daniil Medvedev who fell at the hands of Dimitrov. Fourth-seeded Jannik Sinner also withdrew from the event after his initial win that saw him leave the court well past 2 am local time and without enough time given by tournament organizers to properly recover ahead of his next match.
Felix Auger-Aliassime seemed to turn the corner on a challenging season with his recent title defence in Basel. In Paris, he defeated noted Canadian killer Jan-Lennard Struff in his opener before falling at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas won 6-3, 7-6(4) and increased his head-to-head career count to 6-3 over FAA.
Next up for Auger-Aliassime will be trying to help Team Canada defend their Davis Cup title as he joins a formidable Canadian squad including Milos Raonic, Vasek Pospisil, Alexix Galarneau and Gabriel Diallo later this month in Malaga.
In doubles, the veteran tandem of Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin narrowly defeated Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden by a score of 6-2, 5-7, 10-7 to claim the title. The duo impressively took out the second, third, and fourth seeds on their way to the championship.
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