In a battle between two players who have been questioned in the past for their “heart,” No. 3-seeded Novak Djokovic won an emotional 6-2, 5-7, 7-6(3) battle over No. 15 seed Gael “Force” Monfils for the Paris Masters title, the last regular-season tournament of the year before the year-end event featuring the Top 8 players in London.
Djokovic was the player holding his nerve in the third-set tiebreak as opposed to the outwardly-chest-beating yet inwardly-trembling Monfils, who instead of putting away short balls would scamper forward, hit a slice and retreat, or bail out of points with awkward dropshots that let Djokovic take command.
Upon clinching match point, Djokovic let loose a series of screams and victorious shouts that continued after he shook Monfils’ hand and took his courtside seat awaiting the trophy presentation.
“I’m very happy that I managed to win a big tournament just two tournaments before the end of the season,” Djokovic said. “Now I’m coming with a lot of confidence in London [ATP year-end championship] and the only question is if I’m able to physically rest and get energy for that event.”
It was the first Masters 1000 trophy for Djokovic after previously going 0-4 in finals at the Sony Ericsson Open (l. to Andy Murray) in Miami, the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (l. to Rafael Nadal), the Internazional BNL d’Italia (l. to Nadal) in Rome and the Western and Southern Financial Group Masters (l. to Roger Federer) in Cincinnati.
Djokovic has captured titles at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships (d. Dave Ferrer), the Serbia Open 2009 (d. Luke Kubot), the China Open (d. Marin Cilic) in Beijing and at last week’s Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel (d. Federer).
“Winning back-to-back titles on this level is a huge achievement for me, and adding to that, beating No. 1, No. 2 of the world,” said Djokovic, who topped Nadal in the semifinals on Saturday.
“There’s nothing that I did wrong,” said Monfils, who has yet to see the film. “He played very well. He was hitting well and no mistakes. I needed to fight and stay in there. I started playing better in the third set. He broke me. I was able to find my energy to come back.”
In the doubles final the top-seeded team of Nestor/Zimonjic beat the Spaniards Granollers/Robredo 6-3, 6-4.
“We’ve had two great years together and I want to congratulate Daniel as he had never won this title before,” Zimonjic said.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
U.S. FED CUP — WHERE IS THE AMERICAN PRIDE? — U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez on the 2009 Fed Cup champion Italian squad of Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone: “They have a lot of depth and are consistent, and guess what, they play every time. There’s so much pride.” — And the unsaid take-away, how come the top American players (see: Williams sisters) don’t show the same pride in playing for the U.S.?
Vera Zvonareva underwent minor arthroscopic surgery on her right ankle to remove scar tissue, and will be out 4-5 weeks.
Taylor Dent won the Knoxville Challenger, moving back into the Top 100.
Next year will be the last year of Pilot Pen sponsoring the ATP/WTA New Haven event, ending a 15-year title sponsor run.
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Federer v Nadal in Doha; Brisbane, Chennai, ATP Previews
Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Paris Masters