PARIS — Novak Djokovic defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-3 in the final to win a record-extending seventh Paris Masters title and capturing his 40th Masters 1000 title and stretching his winning run to 18 matches.
The 36-year-old 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.
He will take a 1,490-point lead over Alcaraz into the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin later this month, AFP reported..
Djokovic won the tournament for the sixth time last year after Alcaraz withdrew because of injury.
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.
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.
“It’s incredible to be able to win after quite challenging circumstances for me this week,” Djokovic said according to Reuters. “Coming back from the brink of losing three matches in a row.
“I was close to losing those matches and somehow managed to find an extra gear when it was needed. We both were quite tight at the beginning, and I could see that he was running out of gas a little bit.
“Myself as well but I managed to find an extra shot over the net. The match was closer than the scoreline indicates but another amazing win for me. I’m very proud of this one.”
In a clash featuring the two oldest players in the world’s top 20, the 36-year-old Djokovic drew first blood, breaking the 17th-ranked Dimitrov for a 4-3 lead in the opening set, and he closed it out comfortably in 51 minutes.
The unseeded Dimitrov’s only victory over Djokovic in 12 previous meetings came a decade ago and although the 32-year-old put up more of a fight in the second set, he could not prevent Djokovic from taking his 40th Masters crown.
It put him four Masters titles ahead of his nearest rival Rafa Nadal.
Djokovic is three wins away from 100 Open Era titles, with only Jimmy Connors (109) and Roger Federer (103) above him.
Dimitrov sobbed into his towel after missing the opportunity to claim his first title in six years.
“I’ve been in these situations before many times… losing finals,” said Djokovic, who stopped his on-court interview to give Dimitrov a hug.
“I’ve been blessed to of course win more finals than I’ve lost. I really hope he’ll continue to play at a high level. He’s been playing some of his best tennis this week and I wish him all the best. I hope he can win big events.”