November 3, 2019
Novak Djokovic produced a display of effortless brilliance to secure his fifth Paris Masters title.
It takes his tally to 77 titles in all. That means he equals the great John McEnroe.
Around 15,000 fans were packed into the indoor arena in the French capital. They probably wanted a longer match than the 6-3, 6-4 procession they witnessed.
But in the end they could only marvel at Djokovic and the perfect harmony he created between body and mind.
The ruthlessness that has become Novak’s trademark lay in the cunning, cutting angles of his relentless attack.
Apart from a solitary break point, when already 4-3 up in the second set, Novak didn’t seem troubled at any stage.
Denis Shapovalov seemed tense from the start. He overhit several shots and snatched at others. When he had a half-chance here or there, he was the author of his own downfall with unforced errors.
The plan was to be aggressive from the start but the Canadian was too nervous to execute those brave intentions effectively.
Djokovic was in a much better place psychologically. He was poised. Peaceful. Deadly.
Novak admitted: ‘It was a great tournament for me, I haven’t dropped a set and I felt more comfortable and confident as it went on.
‘I was solid and, when I needed to, I made a break. I felt confident, especially in the last three days and I’m feeling good for the year-end finals in London.
‘I’m happy with my performance here but I also want to say that the best things are yet to come for Denis. It was a new experience for him as a young player.
‘I’m looking forward to a good rest and then hoping I can use this success here for London.’
Djokovic will be determined to finish 2019 as number one instead of his rival, Rafael Nadal. Few would bet against him after this dazzling display.
Shapovalov could only admire Djokovic for his extraordinary skills and hope he can maintain momentum after this break-out week for the rising star.
He said: ‘Huge congrats to Novak and I wish him the best for London for the finals. Hopefully he can go really far there.
‘Thanks to everyone who made this tournament possible, it is probably life-changing for me.’
Little seems to change for Novak, though. Not when he is able to play to his full potential. There is simply no one better.
London can’t wait to welcome Djokovic once more. It will take an extraordinary performance from a rival to deny him that year-end number one status.
And by Christmas we will already be counting the days until his return to the English capital next summer – for Wimbledon 2020.