x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Djokovic masters Monfils

Serb lets loose with a victory scream in Paris after a seesaw battle and a back-to-back victory after the Swiss Indoors.

Novak Djokovic roars his delight after beating Gael Monfils in the final of the Paris Masters.
Novak Djokovic roars his delight after beating Gael Monfils in the final of the Paris Masters.

PARIS // Novak Djokovic scrambled to a three-set victory over the local favourite Gael Monfils to win the Paris Masters for the first time in his career on Sunday. The 22-year old Serb survived a two hours and 43 minutes battle to win 6-2, 5-7, 7-6. The victory meant the third seed secured back-to-back titles after defeating the top-ranked Roger Federer in the Swiss Indoors final the previous weekend.

Djokovic beat the world No 2 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals in Paris and is seemingly in perfect form to defend his title at the eight-man ATP World Tour Finals, which begin next week in London. "Winning back to back titles at this level is a huge achievement for me, and adding to that, beating the world No 1 and No 2," Djokovic said. "I really feel that I'm in great form right now, " he added. "I'm very happy that I managed to win a big tournament just two tournaments before the end of the season. Now I'm coming with a lot of confidence in London and the only question is if I'm able to physically rest and get energy for that event."

Djokovic looked set for a comfortable triumph after winning the first set in just half an hour, but then struggled physically to stay at the same level in a match riddled with momentum swings. "It was unbelievably difficult," said the world No 3, who has won a record 76 matches on the tour this season and claimed his first Masters 1000 tournament of the year following four defeats in finals. "Gael was very unpredictable and he was hitting the ball very good."

The win extended Djokovic's record against Monfils to 4-0. The former Australian Open winner fell on his knees and screamed on the centre court when the Frenchman - who was chasing his third career title - double-faulted on the Serb's first match point. "I didn't find any solution in the beginning, I was playing too defensive," Monfils said. "But I didn't lose faith in my chances and I almost overturned the match."

Djokovic, who earned his 16th career title, lost only three points on his serve in the first set. "I had the feeling I was playing against a cyborg," Monfils joked. "In a way, my mental strength was trained throughout all these years playing so many important matches in the big tournaments against big players in these situations," Djokovic said. "The support of the crowd was one of the probably crucial things of today's match in his favour. "So that makes my success even bigger." * AP