PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic will head to the ATP Finals oozing with confidence.
The top-ranked Serb will take on his rivals at the year-end event starting next weekend on an 18-match winning streak, fresh from a 40th Masters 1000 tournament win.
Djokovic, who has not lost a match since his defeat to Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final in July, won a record-extending seventh title at the Paris Masters on Sunday with a quick and easy 6-4, 6-3 win over Grigor Dimitrov in the final.
Djokovic, who had been pushed to three sets in his three previous matches, enjoyed a comfortable afternoon under the roof of the Palais Omnisports.
“Incredible. To be able to win it after quite challenging circumstances for me this week,” said Djokovic, who was hampered by a stomach virus in Paris. “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.”
Djokovic was in total control from the start in the final while Dimitrov got off to a timid start, letting his opponent dictate the play and never found his rhythm.
Dimitrov was second-best in all areas and the result improved Djokovic’s record against Dimitrov to 12-1.
Djokovic was untouchable on his serve and did not face a single break point as he claimed a 40th Masters 1000 title. Djokovic increased his lead over Alcaraz in the race for the No. 1 spot to 1,490 points, making it more likely he will finish the year as the top-ranked player for a record-extending eighth time.
The Serb dropped just seven points on his serve in the opening set and broke for a 4-3 lead. As he walked back to his chair for the changeover after sealing the first set, he was booed and whistled by sections of fans. Djokovic appeared unfazed and even looked amused.
With a large grin on his face, he provoked the crowd by gesturing in their direction as if encouraging them to whistle and make more noise.
Dimitrov was again in trouble on his serve in the fifth game of the second set and was broken after a series of mistakes. Djokovic did not slow down and won his next serve at love to open a 4-2 lead. He broke again in the ninth game as a last backhand from Dimitrov sailed out of bounds.
“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,” Djokovic said. “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.”
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