World number one Novak Djokovic cruised to a record-extending seventh Paris Masters title and became the first player to claim 40 Masters ATP 1000 titles when the top-seeded Serbian thumped Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-3 in the final on Sunday.
Djokovic’s sixth trophy this season helped him to extend his lead over the second-ranked Carlos Alcaraz in the race to the year-end number one spot and the 24-times Grand Slam champion will head to the ATP Finals primed to seal the deal.
“It’s incredible to be able to win after quite challenging circumstances for me this week,” Djokovic said. “Coming back from the brink of losing three matches in a row on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“I was close to losing those matches and somehow managed to find an extra gear when it was needed. Today, 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.
Victory was sealed when Dimitrov sent a backhand wide, extended Djokovic’s winning run to 18 matches since his defeat by Alcaraz in the Wimbledon title clash in July, leaving him red hot for the season-ending ATP Finals starting on Nov. 12.
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.”