Tennis: Djokovic sinks Dimitrov for seventh Paris Masters title

AFP , Sunday 5 Nov 2023

Novak Djokovic defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-3 in Sunday's final to win a record-extending seventh Paris Masters title and close in on securing the year-end number one ranking for an eighth time.

Serbia s Novak Djokovic holds up the trophy after winning the final match against Bulgaria s Grigor Dimitrov at the Paris Masters tennis tournament Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)


The 36-year-old Djokovic eclipsed his previous record set two years ago as the tournament's oldest champion, capturing his 40th Masters 1000 title and stretching his winning run to 18 matches.

Djokovic collected his sixth title of the season to draw level with Carlos Alcaraz, adding to the Masters victory in Cincinnati that set him up for a landmark 24th Grand Slam singles crown at the US Open.

"It's incredible. To be able to win it after quite challenging circumstances for me this week," said Djokovic, who was hit by a stomach virus that left him feeling under the weather in Paris.

He was taken to three sets in each of his three previous rounds but didn't face a single break point against the 17th-ranked Dimitrov.

"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," said Djokovic.

"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."

He will take a 1,490-point lead over Alcaraz into the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin later this month. Djokovic won the tournament for the sixth time last year after Alcaraz withdrew because of injury.

Dimitrov falls short

Dimitrov, 32, was chasing his first title in Paris since winning the ATP Finals in 2017 but suffered a 10th straight loss to Djokovic in a meeting of the two oldest players in the top 20.

"I think I'm running out of words for Novak," said Dimitrov, whose late-season resurgence had seen him beat Daniil Medvedev, Hubert Hurkacz and Stefanos Tsitsipas this week.

"I just want to say how grateful I am for this amazing week. It's been such a rollercoaster for me the past three months."

The pair held serve largely untroubled until Djokovic landed the first blow at 3-3 in the opening set, when Dimitrov gave his rival his first glimpse with a forehand that drifted long.

Dimitrov produced a crunching serve that a scrambling Djokovic could only return shallow into the court, but the Bulgarian dumped his backhand into the net to concede the break.

Djokovic followed it up with an easy hold and wrapped up the set in the 10th game on his second set point, after Dimitrov scrapped his way back to deuce before spearing a backhand wide.

The second set went on serve before Djokovic's greater consistency told once more, Dimitrov coughing up another break point with a wild forehand and then effectively sealing his fate with an errant backhand.

Djokovic consolidated his cushion with another routine hold, and while Dimitrov saved a break point at 2-4, it only delayed the inevitable.

Dimitrov clawed his way to 30-all on his opponent's serve in the eighth game but his brave resistance soon ended, Djokovic holding and then going on to break again in the ensuing game to seal his 97th career title.

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