Imperious Djokovic wins 5th Paris Masters, 77th title
PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic looked imperious in beating an overawed Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-4 Sunday to win his fifth Paris Masters final, clinching a 34th overall Masters title in fine style to move one behind record holder Rafael Nadal.
At 32 years old, Djokovic has already won 77 titles in a stellar career and fully intends to add many more. “I don’t 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,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest reasons why I’m still playing professional tennis, to fight for these big trophies and to still be able to play the highest level.”
Shapovalov was mostly outclassed, even though he was physically fresh having avoided a potentially grueling semifinal because the second-ranked Nadal pulled out beforehand with an abdominal strain.
Still, the odds were heavily stacked against the 20-year-old Canadian, who was appearing in his first Masters final.
“I put him under pressure for the second serve and from the back of the court I was solid, not giving him too many opportunities,” said Djokovic, who felt unwell with a sore throat earlier in the week. “I feel like the second part of the week was terrific, it was improving day by day in terms of my level.”
Djokovic never appeared troubled on his way to a fifth ATP title this year — level best with Dominic Thiem. He served out the match with a love hold, hitting a forehand winner before turning to look at his box and raising his arms in triumph. “It was my best serving performance of the tournament,” Djokovic said. “Denis maybe lost his focus a bit.”
Shapovalov entered the match with only one career title — a modest ATP 250-level tournament in Stockholm last month — and having lost his three previous encounters against a 16-time Grand Slam winner considered among the alltime greats of tennis.
The big-serving left hander looked tense, making three unforced errors in his first service game and slipping quickly to 3-0 down against a composed Djokovic playing in his 50th Masters final and 111th overall.
South Korea’s Hwang Dae-heon competes during the finals of the men’s 1000-meter at a World Cup short track speedskating event at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah, Sunday. Hwang won the gold medal, followed by Russia’s Victor An’s silver and South Korea’s Park Ji-won’s bronze.