Djokovic Claims Slice Of Masters 1000 History With Paris Crown
Novak Djokovic carved a slice of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 history on Sunday, as the top seed defeated Andy Murray 6-2, 6-4 for the BNP Paribas Masters title, securing a single-season record sixth crown.
Djokovic, who improved to a staggering 27-4 against Top 10 opponents this year, notched a 26th Masters 1000 title. He pulled level with Ilie Nastase for 10th on the list of Open Era tour-level titlists with his 58th overall crown, bringing home €653,700 in prize money and 1,000 Emirates ATP Rankings points.
"There was couple of games in the second set where Andy started turning things around, so things could have gone different way as they did maybe yesterday against Wawrinka at same stage," said Djokovic. "But I managed to stay tough. It was, all in all, the best performance of the week, and it came at the right time.
"I'm hoping that I can repeat the kind of performances and success I have had [at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals] in previous years. [The O2 Arena] is a great stage for a tennis tournament.”
Maintaining a high first serve percentage has been critical for Murray's success in his previous encounters with Djokovic, and it would prove to be just as crucial on Sunday. The Serb would snatch the early initiative with a quick break to love in the third game, reeling off eight straight points. Murray converted on just two of four first serves in that game and the top seed and two-time defending champion would pounce.
The Scot looked to break right back, taking the next game to deuce with a sublime drop shot winner from the baseline, but Djokovic would shut the door, consolidating for 3-1. Murray would register an 11-minute hold in the fifth game, denying three additional break chances. Djokovic continued to conquer the baseline battle with his court position and agility, forcing Murray to engage in undesired backhand rallies from a neutral position. He would snatch a second break for 5-2 and close out the opener after 42 minutes.
An important battleground proved to be on both players' second serves and Djokovic defended his brilliantly in the first set, with 75 per cent points won. He would look to run away with the match after breaking for 2-1 in the second set, but Murray made the most of his first break opportunity a game later. The Scot broke back, capitalising on a momentary lapse in concentration from the Serb, as a punishing second serve return of his own would secure the break to love.
Murray would have a 0/30 peek into Djokovic's serve at 3-2, but the Serb reeled off eight of the next nine points to hold and claim the decisive break for 4-3. He would fire 10 winners, converting four of nine break chances for the victory after 92 minutes.
Not since No. 1 Stefan Edberg beat No. 2 Boris Becker in 1990 have the Top 2 seeds met for the BNP Paribas Masters title. Djokovic, who extended his winning streak to 22 straight matches, has now won 10 of his past 11 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings with Murray, owning a 21-9 advantage overall. The two-time defending champion became the first four-time champion in Paris-Bercy history, adding to titles in 2009 (d. Monfils), 2013 (d. Ferrer) and 2014 (d. Raonic).
Murray, meanwhile, was the first British finalist at the BNP Paribas Masters since Tim Henman won the title in 2003. He was bidding to secure the year-end No. 2 spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings by defeating the Serb. He falls to 35-17 in tour-level finals and 11-5 on the Masters 1000 stage, taking home €320,500 and 600 Emirates ATP Rankings points.
"It was a pleasure to play here this week in the beautiful new stadium," said Murray during the trophy ceremony. "Congratulations to Novak. It's been a great year for him.
It's been a great week for me - first time past the quarter-finals. That's progress and I hope to be back next year."