Dazzling Djokovic takes Paris Masters 1000
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:50
Novak Djokovic claimed his sixteenth career title – and second indoors title in two weeks – with a 6-2 5-7 7-6(3) victory over home favourite Gael Monfils in the final of the BNP Paribas Masters 1000.
After breaking twice to take the first set, the world No.3 was pushed hard by the Frenchman, who shook off his nerves with a tame defeat in sight to make a contest of it.
Despite having the advantage of the partisan home crowd, the 15th seed struggled in the early stages and was broken in only his second service game, and handed Djokovic the opening set with a double fault on set point.
A flying Djokovic raced into a 3-0 lead in the second set and looked to be cruising when suddenly Monfils hit back, showing great spirit to hold a tricky service game before breaking back and sending the crowd into raptures.
The set was heading for a tie-breaker when Monfils broke Djokovic’s serve for a 6-5 lead, bringing the crowd to their feet before holding to stun the Serb and take it to a deciding set.
Djokovic once again got off to a flier in the third, breaking at the end of a stunning rally that had both players gasping for breath to break for a 2-0 lead.
The 22-year-old reached 4-1, but a rejuvenated Monfils showed amazing resilience to peg it back to 4-4, taking the match into a championship-deciding tiebreak.
This time, Djokovic’s flying start proved to be enough, carrying him to a 7-3 win to deny Monfils victory on his home turf.
The win was Djokovic’s fifth of the year as he heads to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in the form of his life.
“In the last four [Masters 1000] finals I lost so I was thinking about that,” admitted the Serb, “especially with Gael getting better and with the support he was getting from the crowd.
“I had to fight them both. I was getting slower and not returning as well,” he added. “Winning back-to-back titles at this level is a huge achievement for me.”
Monfils can take heart from a gutsy performance in his first Masters 1000 final, and paid tribute to coach Roger Rasheed “for making me believe I could reach the final of a Masters tournament.
“At the start he was just playing too good and there was nothing I could do about it,” he said afterwards. “But then I started to believe I had a chance and I really stuck with it and turned the tide.
“It’s a pity it ended like that all the same.”