World No. 1, Novak Djokovic claimed his fifth Paris Masters title with a clinical 6-3 6-4 victory over Canadian, Denis Shapovalov, boosting his chances of finishing the year as the No. 1 player in the world.
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The Serbian will lose the No. 1 ranking to great rival Rafael Nadal on Monday when points from last season’s Nitto ATP Finals are chalked off, but he will go into this year’s season-ending Finals just 640 points behind Nadal, with 1500 points on offer for an undefeated champion in London.
Djokovic was not quite at his best in his opening round in Paris, revealing after his second round victory over Corentin Moutet that he was struggling with an illness, but he got better as the week progressed, and went through the tournament without dropping a set.
The world No. 1 was at his devastating best in his quarter final victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas, dismissing the Greek for the loss of just three games, while he called on his famous battling qualities to hold off an inspired Grigor Dimitrov in a 7-6 6-4 semi-final victory. He did not have to reach that length against Shapovalov in the final, as he controlled the match from start to finish, producing a characteristically efficient performance to take down his Canadian opponent.
Shapovalov had been playing some of the best and most consistent tennis of his career in the lead-up to the final, winning nine of his previous ten matches, claiming a maiden career title in Stockholm in the process, but he was a distant second best to Djokovic in his maiden Masters 1000 final. He had scored impressive victories over Fabio Fognini, Alexander Zverev and Gael Monfils in Paris, but he found Djokovic on a completely different level.
The young Canadian needed a good start to give himself a realistic chance of the upset, but instead, he played a nervous opening game, missing two forehands, and one particularly shocking volley to get broken in the opening game of the match. He improved his serving in the remainder of the set, but he could not get anywhere near Djokovic’s serve, with the Serbian finding his mark with great accuracy, and backing it up with trademark precise groundstrokes.
Shapovalov saved a break point at the start of the second set, and while he held fairly comfortably in the next couple of service games, and gave Djokovic a lot more to think about, there was always that feeling that he wouldn’t sustain that level through the set.
And so it happened in the seventh game as he made three consecutive forehand errors from 15-15 to drop his serve. The 20-year-old had a lifeline in the next game as he forced his first break point of the match, but Djokovic snuffed out that threat, winning the next three points to secure the hold.
The world No. 1 closed out a convincing victory in his next service game, sealing a 34th Masters 1000 title with a short forehand winner into the corner.
Despite the defeat, Shapovalov can look back on a strong finish to the season, and a new career-high ranking as he is projected to break into the top-15 for the first time when the new rankings are released on Monday.
Djokovic now sits just one Masters 1000 title behind Rafael Nadal’s record haul of 35, while he equals John McEnroe’s mark of 77 career titles, putting him joint fifth on the all-time list.
He will attempt to own that position outright, and reclaim the No. 1 ranking when he competes at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in London from 10-17 November.