November 2, 2014
Novak Djokovic took Paris by storm without dropping a single set and edged closer to confirming his status as end-of-year world number one with a convincing 6-2, 6-3 victory over Milos Raonic in a one-sided final.
Afterwards he talked of the thrill of winning a tournament for the first time since becoming a father less than a fortnight ago. And listening to Djokovic, it was hard to imagine how there can be a happier man in the world right now.
‘I can’t be more grateful or happy in my life than now,’ he admitted. ‘I just had a son, I got married, I won Wimbledon in the summer, now I’ll go back home for a few days to be with my son and then I’ll get ready for London.’
Raonic wasn’t his usual powerful self and perhaps the occasion got to him. The big Canadian crumbled under the pressure of Novak’s awesome returns and only landed 65 per cent of his first serves. Knowing he had to hit winners to out-rally Djokovic, the underdog was sucked into making 29 unforced errors
For Novak, the good times just keep on coming. This was his 600th career win the 20th Masters 1000 title. No wonder this particular triumph was extra special, though. ‘It’s great to win my first tournament as a father, it is ten days since Stefan was born and my family is here. It is always a pleasure to play here in Paris.’
Speaking to the crowd in their own language, Djokovic joked: ‘This is a great opportunity for me to learn French. Well done to Milos for a great week and it wasn’t easy to play against someone with such qualities. But my own coach, Boris [Becker] is a giant of the sport and I’m happy to have him here with my other coaches. When they are there together I succeed.’
The key tactic – to catch Raonic cold – paid off handsomely. Novak explained: ‘The break at the start was significant, it always is against big servers, you try to break before they are warmed up. Only one of his service games was to love. It was my best performance and it came in the biggest match of the week.’
The only cause for concern was when Djokovic nursed a sore ankle. But he assured his fans later: ‘It’s nothing thankfully, I used the medical time-out because the muscle had reacted a little to a long stretch and a dynamic movement but it’s fine.’
Raonic was disappointed but knows he is heading in the right direction. He told the Parisian crowd: ‘Thank you for all your support this week. Congratulations to Novak for his performance and on the birth of his baby. I’m going to be focused for the big finals in London and I’ll try hard.’
Can anyone or anything stop Djokovic now? It seems that not even Roger Federer, sleepless nights or endless nappy changing can throw this incredible sportsman out of his stride.