Novak Djokovic Takes “Big Titles” Lead With Paris Masters Triumph

Novak Djokovic Paris Masters

Paris-

Novak Djokovic kept his hopes of finishing 2019 as the world #1 alive with a comprehensive 6-3 6-4 win over Denis Shapovalov, who recently won his first title in Stockholm, in the final at the Paris Masters. The win, which came in the 32-year-old’s 50th Masters final against an opponent in his first, saw him claim a fifth title in Bercy and the 34th Masters 1000 crown of his career. It was another masterclass from Djokovic, who faced just one break point over the course of the match, which he saved, and won 100% of his second-serve points.

“I think I had the best serving match of the tournament, and that’s why the match was pretty short, just over an hour for two sets,” Djokovic said after the match. “One of the best matches I have played, definitely, this week. And I feel like the second part of the week was terrific. It was improving day by day for me in terms of level of tennis. And I couldn’t be happier with this win.”

Shapovalov perhaps failed to find the rhythm he needed on his own serve, although a solid first-serve percentage of 68% allowed him to keep it more competitive than it otherwise might have been. But his real problem in the match was his inability to make an impression against the Djokovic serve. He had used the block return to good effect all week in Paris, but it was not a tactic that paid dividends against Djokovic.

“[Novak] just places it well. It’s tough to read,” Shapovalov said. “He changes it up, has a good variety. He was really picking his spots today, so I had maybe one chance, but it was tough. [Overall] he played solid.”

The 20-year-old Canadian was broken in his first service game of the match, allowing Djokovic to take a quick 3-0 lead and, despite a valiant effort, Shapovalov never managed to get back into the match. Djokovic broke again after a poor game from Shapovalov midway through the second set, leaving him in a commanding position. He was not slow to capitalise, closing out the win in an hour and five minutes to claim another title at the Paris indoors.

Djokovic Takes Lead In ‘Big Titles’ Count

His victory saw him surpass Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the race to finish with the most ‘Big Titles’. Heading into the Paris Masters, the three great men were locked on 54 titles each won at the Slams, the ATP Finals and the Masters events. But Djokovic’s victory broke that deadlock and he will surely be desperate to extend his advantage at the ATP Finals, where he has not won the title since 2015.

“I don’t try to take them for granted like it’s something normal or usual or common. I’ve been blessed to win so many big titles in my life. And that’s one of the biggest reasons, actually, why I’m still playing professional tennis. To fight for these big trophies and to still be able to play on the highest level,” Djokovic said.

“Obviously I love tennis. I love playing the sport. But at the same time, being part of the tour and being professional and fighting for No. 1 in the world and Grand Slams and biggest Masters events, that alters your life. And so I’m trying to remind myself of how precious these moments are and these trophies when I find myself in different life circumstances.”

Federer currently leads the count for the total amount of Grand Slams with 20 and ATP Finals with six. But the Swiss trails behind both Djokovic and Nadal on total number of Masters 1000 events won. His lead in both Slams and ATP Finals looks set to come under real pressure in the coming years, with Nadal now just one behind and Djokovic looking to be in good position to equal his record of six ATP Finals titles in London in a fortnight.

Ironically enough, however, whilst Djokovic now leads the overall count of ‘Big Titles’ won, he does not have a lead in Masters, Majors or ATP Finals titles won. However, if he can maintain the form he showed at the Paris Masters into the final week of this year and the 2020 season, he will surely feel confident in his chances of further closing the gap on his great rivals.

Number of ‘Big Titles’ shared amongst the ‘Big Three’

Novak Djokovic Roger Federer Rafael Nadal
Grand Slams 16 20 19
ATP Finals 5 6 0
Masters 1000 34 28 35
TOTAL 55 54 54

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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